Monday, 6 February 2012

Good People, by David Lindsay-Abaire, Feb 6, 2012 ****

By Red Stitch Actors Theatre
Red Stitch Actors Theatre, Rear 2 Chapel St. St. Kilda, Feb 5 to March 3, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Feb 6, 2012
 Andrea Swifte and Dion Mill in Good People, Red Stitch Actors Theatre

SOME PEOPLE DIG A TUNNEL and escape from their tough neighbourhoods, down at heel families and deprived childhoods to forge a new life, while others get stuck in the land of lost opportunities.

Margie, played with passion and commitment by Andrea Swifte, is one of those trapped in working class, South Boston, known as ‘Southie’ by locals.

She is both tragic and inspiring in her determination to survive, her resilience in overcoming adversity, including losing her job, living on peanuts and caring for her intellectually disabled, adult daughter.

Now, 30 years after their short-lived, teen romance, she meets Mike (Dion Mills), now a wealthy doctor, and Margie confronts her lost opportunities and hopes that Mike can help her find a way out of the hole.

Swifte is sympathetic as Margie, portraying her wry, self-deprecating humour, warmth and toughness as well as her volatile temper, deep resentment and desperate need for change.

Mills is compelling as Mike, playing him like a caged lion: restrained, watchful and elegant but ready to revert to his wild state at any provocation.

Jane Montgomery Griffiths is mischievous and brassy as Margie’s fiercely loyal friend, Jeannie, the mouthy, ‘white-trash’ waitress while Olga Makeeva is delightful oddball as the self-serving Dottie.

Alexandria Steffensen effectively balances warmth and anger as Mike’s wife, Kate, and Rory Kelly is a youthful foil to the troubled older generation.

Fairfax’s direction allows the play to focus on its characters while keeping the pace swift and balancing comedy and drama. We forgive the occasional slow scene change with furniture moving.

Lindsay-Abaire’s story challenges the notion that everyone can make a successful life in America if only they made an effort. His dialogue is smart and well observed and his characters are alive.

Good People is a play about class in the modern, Western, urban world and, through its lovable and eccentric characters, asks if it’s possible to change your path, beat your miserable circumstances and make a successful life.

By Kate Herbert

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