Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole – 2007) brings us yet another naturalistic piece in his serio-comic Good People, currently running at the Walnut Street Theatre until April 28th, produced in association with the Fulton Theatre. Mr. Lindsay-Abaire is not only a playwright but a lyricist, librettist and screenwriter. His “Shrek The Musical” earned him two Tony Award nominations for Book and Lyrics as well as a Grammy Award nomination for best soundtrack. And his film credits include his adaptation of “Rabbit Hole” starring Nicole Kidman and the new “Oz: The Great and Powerful”, out now in theaters. To say that he is a writer of some prowess is to put it mildly. Like a well made dress, his dialogue is so effortless, you can’t see the seams. You don’t notice the structure or the craft until it’s all over and then you think, “How did he do that?” And not unlike Chechov, Lindsay-Abaire blends the very funny with the very depressing aspects of existence that his complex characters must navigate.
Growing up in working class Southie in Boston, the playwright has drawn his characters from his own early experiences. Leading lady, Margie is just being let go from her $9.25/hour job at the Dollar Store and is at risk of being evicted. Saddled with an adult mentally challenged daughter that she takes care of at home, Margie can’t seem to catch a break. Informed that Mike, an old fling who escaped Southie has returned as a successful doctor, she imagines that he might be her last chance to get a foothold out of the sinkhole her life has become.
If a director’s first job is to cast well, then director, Bernard Havard (Producing Artistic Director of the Walnut) is batting a thousand. Julie Czarniecki hits the ball out of the park as Margie, with a Southie accent so thick you can cut it with a knife. She hits all the notes in Margie’s passive aggressive behavior: her ballsy pushiness yet at the same time her willingness to be a complete doormat. And her comic expressions as she tastes the classy wines in the doctor’s expansive living room are priceless. Dan Olmstead is perfect as the big, handsome doctor who speaks so well and seems so nice on the surface, until his real colors are exposed. Danielle Herbert as Kate, Mikes wife, plays a flighty, pampered Southern belle who knows how to guard her territory. Denise Whelan as the colorful Jean and Sharon Alexander as the batty Dottie are quite hysterical as Margie’s scene stealing, Bingo playing, Southie girlfriends while Jered McLenigan is nicely low key as Margie’s ex-supervisor and ultimate savior. The scenic design by Robert Klingelhoefer is a vivid pallette of contrasts, from the depressing back, brick wall of a Dollar Store to the posh, white living room furniture of a well-to-do physician. It drives home the point of just how disparate people’s lives really are.
For tickets call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787 or visit the Walnut’s website at: WWW.WALNUTSTREETTHEATRE.ORG.
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