Good People

Good People
By David Lindsay-Abaire. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Directed by Mark Kilmurry. 7 April – 21 May, 2016

Every now and again the Ensemble picks up a Broadway play overlooked by the bigger Aussie theatre companies. Such is Good People, which won the 2011 New York Drama Critics Award for Best Play, and which here proves to be an absolute killer.

The first night audience sat up, the five-person cast stood tall and the evening ended with the most heartfelt, urgent applause. Somewhere playwright David Lindsay-Abaire must have been feeling good.

Mark Kilmurry, Artistic Director of the Ensemble, claimed this plum for himself, and responded with a brilliant set from Tobhiyah Stone Feller and pitch perfect casting led by Tara Morice in the role created in America by Frances McDormand.

As much as I admire Miss McDormand’s indomitable working class portraits, Tara Morice would give her a run for her money in the role of Margaret, sacked from her lowly job, down to her last dollar, doing the best for her mentally challenged daughter. Miss Morice is quite brilliant in the role – still, thinking, ready with a verbal thrust or nasty dig accompanied by the perennial “just kiddin’”.

Back in town (Southie in South Boston) after 20 years comes Mike (Christopher Stollery), now a successful doctor, once Margaret’s short-lived boyfriend. He’s made the most of his life away from Southie, including an intelligent, young wife Kate (Zindzi Okenyo). The second act is mainly these three in full-speed collision.

Margaret’s friends, none of whom can be trusted as far as you’d look at them, are Gael Ballantyne (Dottie), Jane Phegan (Jean) and Drew Livingston (Stevie). The entire cast have been schooled in excellent Boston accents.

A grand job all round.

Frank Hatherley

Photographer: Clare Hawley

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