The gritty absurdities of Good People ring wicked true, class distinctions scraping up against each other until sparks inevitably fly. Keegan’s production, directed by Josh Sticklin, is, for the most part, taut and tart, and the solid cast makes these conflicted characters wonderfully real to us. Susan Marie Rhea shines particularly as Margie. You’ve met someone like her before. You want to comfort and console and reassure her even as she manipulates the hell out of you.
Playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, at his best, has a fantastic ear. The quotidian dialogue between Margie, Jean (Sheri S. Herren), Dottie (Linda High), and Stevie (Joe Baker), Margie’s recent boss, has a repetitive, raunchy, feisty staccato that rings painfully, but also amusingly, true. So do the jagged edges of the living-room conversation between Mike (Mike Kozemchak) and his wife, Kate (Simone Brown), in the upper-middle-class Chestnut Hill life Mike has clawed his way to.
You know that in a play called Good People you’ll find that phrase twisted every which way, and Lindsay-Abaire does not disappoint. In one sense, the characters are all good people, looking out for their families, trying to live up to their responsibilities. But could Margie with the hard “g” have had it any easier? Were her choices her own? Were Mike’s?
In life, as in their bingo games, the Southie crowd studies the squares and listens for the calls. The odds suck, but here’s hoping.