“Good People” opens not with a whimper, but a bang as Margie (Celine Montaudy) is fired from her job at The Dollar Store by Stevie (Kyle Couture). She avoids his questions as she knows what is coming, trying to show him that she knew his mother well, but in the end, she must face facts and be let go. She pleads, using her mentally challenged daughter (played by Emily Carter) as a bargaining chip, but all for naught.
Right away the audience knows what they are in store for, a tale of poverty and class. The next scene does little to defer from this as Margie meets with her friend Jean (Laura Kennedy) and landlord Dottie (Maggie Papa) to talk about her job situation. Where things get interesting, however, is when Jean suggests Margie approach an old boyfriend who made it out of Southie as a doctor.
The next scene is between Margie and Mike (Christopher X Morris) and the interactions between the two of them show the audience what the play is all about: not poverty, but class differences, especially between two people who once were at the same standings.
In the second act, Margie goes to Mike’s house for a dinner party (with some complications that will remain unspoiled) where she meets his wife, Kate (Alijah Deana Dickenson), who Margie quickly remarks about when Kate leave the room, “She’s black!” Herein the audience gets another layer into the class struggle, a racial one.
The final act takes place entirely over this dinner party, and the tensions that abound in it are wonderfully constructed and paced. They build up and settle again and again, keeping the audience on their seats. All the actors play the parts wonderfully, capturing at once the pathos, humor, and drama in these characters lives.
To be sure, there are flaws, though they are minor. The choice of song used to mark every scene transition is John Lennon’s “Imagine,” a song I can’t imagine anyone not being tired of. It is repeated through every time the scene shifts, which quickly becomes tiresome. During these transitions, the spotlight is shown on Joyce, Margie’s mentally challenged daughter, who, for the entire play, simply sits in a chair to the side of the stage and shakes back and forth. This, while more interesting than the song choice, gets old fairly quick and seems to be repetitious for no reason.
But these things are minor slights on what is otherwise an entertaining and thought provoking play about class struggles and the politics between old friends who are now in different places. It’s not a hard stretch to place the latter in contemporary setting, with college marking the departure of Mike’s character from his Southie life, and marking a transitional stage for all of us. The thing to decide now is which way to go from here.