Theater is no stranger to highlighting class differences in society, but there is not quite anything like Good People. Set in South Boston, the play shows the dichotomy of someone stuck in “Southie” and someone who has “made it out.”
After Margaret loses her job as a cashier, she begins a search for a new one against a variety of barriers holding her back. When she hears that a former classmate has returned to the area, she finds hope of finding a job from someone who understands the hardships that she faces. However, she soon discovers that reunion won’t be everything she thinks it will be.
The play features a fascinating set designed by Collette Pollard. The transformation that the stage undergoes in Act Two is awe-inspiring and draws audible gasps from the audience. Under the direction of Susan V. Booth, the cast members are at their best, making it hard to consider anyone else in the role that each one plays.
As Margaret, Kate Buddeke attacks the role with ease and creates an immediately likeable and sympathetic character. A bit acerbic at times, Margaret is a complex character fighting shifting desires, but ultimately has one goal: survival. Buddeke’s body language, voice and posture –all vividly paint a picture of a woman worn by years of hard work and raising a child alone.
Brenda Bynum plays Dottie, the caustic landlord, perfectly. Similarly, LaLa Cochran, as Jean, gives one of her best performances in the role as Margaret’s friend from childhood. The cast also include Andrew Benator as Stevie and the Voice of the Priest. He brings a simple, reserved balance to the high-strung actions of the three ladies. Thomas Vincent Kelly plays Mike, Margaret’s former boyfriend who is now a “lace-curtain” doctor, and his wife is played by Kristen Ariza.
While some of the events in the story are somewhat unbelievable, David Lindsay-Abaire’s script about the haves and the have-nots is even timelier than when it was written. Good People is thought-provoking and made more powerful by the Alliance’s production.
Good People plays through February 10, 2013 on the Alliance Theatre’s main stage. For tickets and more information, please visit the theater’s website. The show’s runtime is approximately two and half hours with an intermission.
– Kenny Norton