Theater Review

'Good People' thoughtfully funny, warmly moving

CorrespondentAugust 26, 2013 

Rasool Jahan, left, and Mark Filiaci in Deep Dish Theater's production of "Good People."

COURTESY OF JONATHAN BRADFORD YOUNG

  • Details

    What: “Good People,” by David Lindsay-Abaire

    Where: Deep Dish Theater Company, University Mall, 201 S. Estes Drive, Chapel Hill

    When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 28-29, Sept. 4-5 and Sept. 11-12; 8 p.m. Aug. 30-31, Sept. 6-7 and Sept. 13-14; 2 p.m. Sept. 1 and 8

    Tickets: $16-$24

    Info: 919-968-1515 or deepdishtheater.org

In David Lindsay-Abaire’s 2011 serious comedy, “Good People,” he contends that we all can be selfish or giving, depending on the situation. Deep Dish Theater Company’s thoughtfully funny, warmly moving production beautifully supports the playwright’s insightful script.

In the working-class neighborhood of South Boston, single mother Margie gets fired from her cashier’s job, having missed too much work. She reminds her boss it’s because of her mentally disabled adult daughter, but he tells Margie he must fire her to keep his own job.

Desperate to make rent, Margie decides to appeal to Mike, a former boyfriend and now successful doctor, after learning he’s back in the area. He meets her for old times’ sake, but says he has nothing when she asks for a job.

Margie pushes the guilt button by contrasting his wealthy lifestyle with her no-options, poverty-stricken existence. Mike reluctantly invites her to a party at his home, suggesting she might find work among his business friends. The party is canceled because Mike’s daughter gets sick, but Margie shows up anyway, armed with a drastic plan to elicit Mike’s help. However, she is forced to re-evaluate her whole life after meeting Mike’s wife and learning the couple’s history.

The human comedy arises from the crude banter among Margie and her friends, as well as the awkward moments between former lovers. Lurking underneath, however, is the plight of the unemployed, the sadness in dreams defeated and the guilt over hurtful past actions.

Director Tony Lea astutely guides his superb cast in balancing each character’s flaws and strengths. Helen Hagan skillfully plays Margie’s hardened, manipulative side, only to move us deeply with Margie’s ultimate loving sacrifice. Mark Filiaci is perfectly cast as the confident, well-mannered Mike, perceptively revealing his ambivalence and remorse as the past confronts him. As wife Kate, Rasool Jahan is the essence of urbane sophistication hiding self-doubts and resentments. The trio’s lengthy second act scene is a gripping roller-coaster ride.

Page Purgar is a laugh machine as Margie’s outrageous friend Jean, Brian Fisher offers an amusing range of pent-up frustration as Margie’s boss Stevie, and Sharlene Thomas’ Dottie, Margie’s landlady, lives up to the character’s name with her off-the-wall ditherings.

Rob Hamilton’s impressive turntable of settings and Jenni Mann Becker’s mood-enhancing lighting round out this highly recommended staging.

Dicks: music_theater@lycos.com

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