BWW Review: GOOD PEOPLE at CV Rep Theater is Masterful
Almost everyone has fallen on hard times. Sometimes they're financial, sometimes they're emotional, sometimes they're both. It's how we get through them that defines us. A deep look into who we are, and what we will do to survive those times, David Lindsay-Abaire's 2011 play Good People explores all of that and more.
Margie (Reamy Hall), a Boston Southie has had a life full of hard knocks. She grew up poor, got knocked up, and her now full-grown daughter was premature and has been mentally impaired since birth. The dad's out of the picture, and deadbeat at that, and Margie has been trying to string her life together for a long time. Add to that she's been fired from multiple jobs for being late, and today she got fired again, by her old friend's son, Stevie (Erik Odom).
If you think things couldn't get worse, think again. Rent is due, and her landlady friend, Dottie (Barbara Gruen) who also watches Margie's kid, is threatening to move her son into Margie's apartment if she can't pay up. Along with her best friend, Jean (Candi Milo), Margie manages to keep her sense of humor intact, while she searches for that elusive next job, and tries to hit it big at Bingo.
Margie learns Jean saw Margie's old flame, Mike (Michael Matthys), at a fundraiser where she was working. Mike's gotten out of the old hood in a big way, he's become an infertility doctor, and he's doing so well he lives in the tony neighborhood of Chestnut Hill. He married a colleague's daughter, Kate (Nadège August), a much younger, African American woman, and together they have a small child.
Margie shows up at Mike's office looking for a job. He tells her he doesn't have anything available, and their exchange becomes rather awkward when she boldly goads him into inviting her to his birthday party on Saturday so she can meet his friends who might have any kind of work for her.
Mike rises to the challenge, and it's all set. That is, until Mike calls her the day before saying his daughter is ill, and they are cancelling the party. Margie's not buying it, and shows up anyway.
What happens at their house in act two is fantastic theater, and I strongly recommend you go yourself to find out. Layers are peeled back, secrets revealed - or are they - and everyone turns inside out and reveals their true colors.
Hall is spectacular as Margie (hard g) and takes us on one helluva rollercoaster ride. We feel bad for Margie, occasionally we don't like Margie, and then comes the revelation when we realize who everyone really is in her world, and we finally understand her. She is not only luckless, but a product of her environment, like your old uncle who is a little bit racist, and not into the whole PC movement, but the girl's got a big, generous heart.
Matthys and Odum are the only two men in the play (what??) and they're terrific as Mike and Stevie respectively. They both play uncomfortable beautifully while the women in their lives control everything around them. Odum's Boston accent is spot on, and he handles his role as the hapless and misunderstood Stevie with gravitas. Matthys plays everything just below the surface as the boy who got out and made it big. His nerves over what Margie wants from him simmer slowly before coming to a full boil.
However Good People belongs to the women. Milo as Jean is pure comedy and sharp as a razor's edge. She brings all the laughs in act one, while Gruen's Dottie is perfect as the hard-boiled landlady/friend.
August's Kate is a revelation. Her comedy chops are a marvel to behold as she tries to figure out exactly what the hell is going on around her. She's smart, caring, yet she too seems to be hiding something we only get glimpses of. It's a truly multi-faceted and fantastic performance.
As far as production values go, wow wow wow! From Jimmy Cuomo's ingenious set, to the marvelous lighting by Moira Wilkie Whitaker, the haunting sound design by Rebecca Kessin, delicious hair and makeup by Lynda Shaeps, and clever props by Doug Morris, this production by CV Rep, in the loving and artful hands of guest director Michael Matthews is about as perfect as theater gets.
Good People is performed at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday; and 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, through Sunday, May 19, the CVRep Playhouse in Cathedral City, 68510 E. Palm Canyon Drive. (There is no show Tuesday, May 7.) Tickets are $53. For tickets or more information, call 760-296-2966, or visit www.cvrep.org