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Calendar >  Oceanside Theatre’s “Good People” Dynamic, Emotional, Challenging Experience

Oceanside Theatre’s “Good People” Dynamic, Emotional, Challenging Experience

By   /  May 15, 2023  /  No Comments

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TR Robertson -It’s at times raw, satirical, humorous, and extremely emotional and the play, “Good People”, will leave you drained by the final moments on stage; but you will be thoroughly entertained and talking about the performance as you leave Oceanside Theatre. “Good People” is written by Pulitzer Prize winning author David Lindsey-Abaire. It had its world premiere at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York City and on Broadway at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.  In 2011 it was nominated for two Tony Awards including Best Play. It did win a Tony for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play and a New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play.

Photos by Ken Jacques

The play takes place in a Southie blue collar Boston neighborhood. Struggling Dollar Store employee Margie Walsh, who has never been married, is trying to make ends meet living paycheck to paycheck while raising her challenged daughter, Joyce. “Best friends” Dottie and Jeanie are quick to offer many suggestions, especially after Margie loses her job at the Dollar Store because she is usually always late to work, mostly due to dealing with issues Joyce has or child-care issues with Dottie being late. Dottie also rents an apartment to Margie and worries about getting rent. Both friends offer a wide range of advice for Margie concerning where to get a job, which leads in one conversation to suggest approaching a former classmate, who has “escaped” Southie years ago and is now a successful doctor, to see he can help with a job. Margie, who never graduated high school, is conflicted about this, reasons to surface later in the play. Dr. Mike Dillon has changed quite a bit since leaving South Boston. His former rough exterior is gone, and his world is now centered around his profession, a reproductive endocrinologist (fertility doctor), his younger wife and baby and his life in the upscale neighborhood of Chestnut Hill. Margie’s meeting with Mike is awkward, tense and a little hostile, ending with Margie “finagling” her way to Mike’s birthday party with a chance to meet people that might offer her a job. She accuses him of being a “lace curtain”, too good to invite someone from Southie to his home. Later Margie receives a phone call saying the party has been cancelled. Margie’s friends’ step in again, giving their advice while they are at a Bingo game and Margie decides to show up to Mike’s Chestnut Hill home anyway, a part of Boston she has never been to. The majority of the second half of the play takes place in the living room of Mike and his wife Kate. To say there is tension in the room is an understatement. Margie wants a job, although ulterior motives will surface, emotions will reach boiling points, accusations are thrown out and things are said that probably would have been better left unsaid.  Mike, Kate, and Margie all get into the fracas and in the end, we are left guessing who is telling the truth. The final scene ends with a return to the Bingo Hall and another encounter with Margie and her former Dollar Store boss, Stevie, this time with a different result.

This roller coaster emotional ride is wonderfully played out by an amazing performance by the five-person cast. Playwright, David Lindsay-Abaire, grew up in South Boston. He has created a play that requires the actors to be able to handle a Southie speech pattern and attitude. Fast paced, talkative, choice curse words thrown in when necessary are amazingly performed by Susan Clausen (Margie), Heidi Bridges (Dottie), and Sherri Allen (Jean). The dynamic of the three friends is hilarious, biting and touching. They like one another, but it also seems as though they occasionally want to punch each other out. These three ladies fit their roles perfectly and kept the audience mesmerized during the performance. This was Susan Clausen’s first performance at the Oceanside Theatre stage.

Playing Mike was Oceanside Theatre Artistic Director Ted Leib. Leib showed great range as he flowed from a changed Southie to a more upscale Bostonian, then slipping back to a hard-core Southie when tension rose. His final scenes in the living room of his home kept you spellbound wondering just how far he had been pushed by Margie. This is a great performance by Leib in his role, as Margie says, “There it is, you can’t take the Southie out”.

Amira Temple plays Mike’s wife Kate. Amira presents Kate as moderately superficial, but someone who is going through some issues of her own, although we don’t fully find out what these are. Kate also questions Margie’s true reason for coming to their home and does a stand-up job of letting Margie know how she feels. Dennis Peters, as Stevie, appears at the beginning and at the end of the play and in Scene 4 of Act 1 in the Bingo Hall. In both beginning and ending cases what he says will have a profound effect on Margie’s life. The younger Stevie tries to deal with the three Southie women, struggling to be able to put up with their quick wit, biting remarks and becoming the butt of their jokes. Peters is perfect as the flustered Stevie. Everything make you wonder who really are the “Good People” in this play

The director of “Good People” is Sandy Campbell, making her directorial debut. Her Creative Team consists of Associate Director Danny Campbell, Stage Manager Gabby Stryker, Asst. Stage Manager & Property Design Morgan Zwonitzer, Set Design & Scenic Dressing Julie Lorenz, Lighting Design Mashun Tucker, Costume Design Marcene Drysdale, Sound Design Ted Leib, Props Assistant Tatum Carson, Dialect Coach Vanessa Dinning, Creative Consultant & Intimacy Coach Charles Finn, and Set Builder Geronimo Omabtang.

“Good People” will be at the Oceanside Theatre, performances in the Brooks Theater, a theater since 1937, located at 217 N. Coast Highway, Oceanside. There is some “coarse language” in the play. The play will run until May 28th. Tickets are available at www.oceansidetheatre.org or call 760-433-8900.  

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