Tuesday June 27th 2017

“Good People”

In these economic times, many Americans are out of work and having to adjust to hard times, are forced to look and review their lives and the choices they made. In David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Good People”, now on the stage at Steppenwolf Theatre, we get a very thought provoking glimpse into the life of  a single mother, Margaret, who loses her job and finds that her high school sweetheart is back in town and is now a highly respected doctor. Margaret ( supremely played by Mariann Mayberry) while talking with her friends decides to pay him a visit to see if he can offer her a job. When she visits the office of Mike ( deftly handled by Keith Kupferer) it turns out that he wants nothing to do with his past, but she does convince him to invite her to a party that his wife is hosting. He calls to advise that his daughter is ill and that the party is called off, but in her mind, this is a lie, so that he will not have to deal with their past, so she decides to go anyway.

What takes place is an evening of horror as she meets his wife, Kate ( the always charming Alana Arenas) who attempts to find out more about Mike’s days in South Boston. It turns out that they are having some marital problems and Kate has strong desires to know more about her husband. Margaret had hoped that the arty would allow her to network with some of Mike’s associates in order to get a job so she can take care of her adult daughter who is slightly retarded, but when there is no one to connect with Kate offers a baby-sitting assignment for their young daughter Ally, which causes Mike to lose it. What transpires in this confrontation is Margaret saying things that are not true in order to get even with Mike for his not offering her a job, and all heel breaks lose.

The story is both comical with some great humor provided by her best friend Jean ( played by the adorable Lusia Strus) along with her landlady Dottie( Molly Regan) and tragic in that the pain she is feeling about her life and the choices she has made. We, as humans, tend to create a persona that is how we want others to see us. We all feel that we are good people and while we might be, when caught between a rock and a hard place, we may not be what we think we are at all. Directed by K. Todd Freeman and a masterful set by Walt Spangler, “Good People” gets to the heart of people when it comes to class and jealousy. Margaret resents the fact that her life has not been what she wanted and that Mike has had all the good luck. In her mind, when she sees all that he has, she thinks how this could have been hers if they had not broken up. But, they were never the couple that she thinks they were. The were friends that dated for awhile.

When Margaret finds that Mike is afraid that her stories of his past may just upset his life, she uses that to get Mike to help her, or does she? We, in the United States,  do have a class system, no matter what people might think and in many cases, those who never rise above what heir parents were tend to blame those who do for leaving them behind. Maragaret is not a bad person, but rather one who has struggled for many years and wants her piece of the pie; to live the American Dream. While many grew up with others who lived the same type of lives, we all know some people who left it all behind and reached true success. Most of these people not only left us behind, they have erased us from their lives not wanting anything to do with the past lives that we shared. Those who still do, are really the “Good People” who want to do what they can in order to help those who did not get the same chances or make the right choices. Mike can’s and Margaret can’t handles the situation.

This is not just a play. It is a meaningful look into the mind for many people that we either know or have met over the years. These are plain people in a neighborhood and lifestyle that they are trapped in trying to get out. When they see that someone they grew up with has, they search for a way to join them. But, the past is just that, the past, and Lindsay-Abaire shows us that trying to hold onto the past can only cause dangerous consequences. There comes a time when it must be left behind. I can promise you that while you will be entertained to the nth degree by this slick production, you will also leave the theater with a lot on your mind and if you go to dinner or coffeee after the show, you will be discussing the characters presented as well as the subject matter. That is why this play is so strong. It is entertaining and yet, thought provoking with a solid cast, a slick production and probably one of the best plays in town.

The other cast members are Will Allan as the man who has to fire Margaret from her job to start the play, but who turns out to be one of the “Good People” and two offstage actors who provides some voices, Alan Wilder and Martha Lavey ( two top actors who although they play small roles, are an integral part of the overall production. The sets, that slide in and out , allowing the play to continue almost seamlessly are important as are the lights (Kevin Rigdon) the sound and music(Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen) and the costumes (nan Cibula-Jenkins). What makes a live stage performance special is that all the ingredients fit to perfection, and this one does.The props are also a very important feature to the completeness of a play as each one has a reason and while they do not mention the props person, they do give a credit to the assitant ,Emily Guthrie, so I am mentioning her. There are a lot of hand props in this production and without them, some of the scenes would never work.

“Good People” will continue in the Downstairs Theater at Steppenwolf through November 11th with performances as follows:

Tuesdays,Wednesdays,Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 3 and 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at various times- check www.steppenwolf.org.

To purchase tickets you can visit the box office located at 1650 N. Halsted, visit the website or call 312335-1650

Tickets range from  $20-$86. The 20 for $20 tickets are subject to availability on day of performance only and RUSHT tickets (half price) are also availbale on day of performance subject to availability. Students discounts: $15 for student tix, limit 2 with valid ID.

There is street parking, some metered some open in the area as well as the Steppenwolf garage just down the street.

To see what others say about this very special play, go to my home page, click on the theatreinchicago link,go to review round-up and click on “Good People”

2 Comments for ““Good People””

  • Lauraly says:

    You got it all wrong. This is a story about a guy who got out of the shite on the backs of others, esp. Marg. Whom he left abandoned with his special needs daughter. The elitistes never get it. This peice of shite Southie, who happenened to escape his friggin destiny because he was smart, had descent parents, not because he was some great guy cause let’s face it he was a douche bag; let alone the princess he married passing judgement. Talk about her “pride”. “Pride” is something people with money have. Loved this play. But the reviewer got it all wrong.

    • Alan Bresloff says:

      I am glad you enjoyed the show. I guess in reading my review, you missed the part about him NOT being a good person. The question of paternity is one that is really unanswered, but I did not walk away feeling that he was the father- he did not leaver her with the burden of raising a child in need. It appears you saw it differently than I did, but that is what makes this play so powerful. different people can read into it with thier won thoughts


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