Oceanside Theatre Company’s "Good People" will Have Audiences Debating

The Production has its Final Performances this Weekend Closing on May 28th at the Brooks Theatre 
It Should Not Be Missed 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Susan Clausen, Sherri Allen, Heidi Bridges, Dennis PetersGood People - Photo Ken Jacques

I always start the views with a frame of reference -in my world- so it makes sense for everybody. This is the first time I have seen a production of David Lindsay-Abaire's Good People. The Old Globe staged it in 2012 and since we theatre people measure time in shows, it is curious to see that eleven years later, 'People comes back to the county through Oceanside Theatre Company's take and a directorial debut by Sandy Campbell which I consider to be one of the best productions this year so far. Those who read my pieces know I like to keep it current and ongoing. If I see something that truly affects me, it will go in writing and with that said, this production of Good People lived in my brain, marinating for days after. Playwright Lindsay Abaire's words are crisp and authentic. Set in Boston, ahem, south Boston or "Southie" as the locals call it, the story centers around Margie (Susan Clausen) a middle-life single mom of a handicapped daughter who loses her job as a clerk in the dollar store and in order to keep making the rent, she goes on a desperate search for work. In the beginning, the play seems pretty clear and straight but as it progresses, the web and tangles start to form. Margie's friends and bingo partners Dottie (Heidi Bridges) and Jean (Sherri Allen) brainstorm possible work options for Margie. It comes up in the conversation that Mike (Ted Leib) a former Southie schoolmate and Margie's ex, is back in town and a prominent fertility doctor. Jean suggests Margie go see him and ask for a job. When she does, Margie is impressed with how far Mike has come and how good he is doing. At least financially and professionally because as a person, it seems he is the same as back when they were younger. Margie sees a family picture and notices Mike is married to a significantly younger woman and it slips that he is having a birthday party to which Margie gets herself invited. There's a cancellation but she goes anyway because she wants to see the house where he lives and she is still in great need of work. Jean comes up with the nonsense of Margie pulling a "Maury Povich" on Mike regarding her daughter. (that American TV reference alone had me laughing out of my seat).

If the plot was already weaving, oh...it gets thicker. She meets Mike's wife, Kate (Amira Temple) and aside from her youth, Margie is surprised to see that Kate is Black. As an audience member, it kind of raises a flag, but then you just think Margie is being ignorant, a little racist and that is that. During a cheese and wine exchange, Kate asks Margie for childhood stories about Mike. It starts off semi innocent but when Mike gets guarded and then defensive about a childhood rumble outside of his house, Margie discloses that Mike almost beat a Black kid from the other side of town to death and had it not been for Mike's dad who stopped the fight, it would have ended in tragedy. If the air is not tense enough Margie blurts out Mike's possible paternity to which he lunges at her showing his true colors. Kate reacts, and the scene cuts to a bingo game where Sherri, Heidi, and Margie are talking, ending with an audacious cliffhanger that cannot be disclosed and you will have to go see.

Ted Leib, Amira Temple, Susan ClausenGood People - Photo Ken Jacques

Sandy Campbell embraced a challenging plot for her directorial debut and the delivery was momentous, well-resolved, and thrilling! Julie Lorenz's set design with moving pieces dressed each scene accordingly as well as Mashun Tucker's lighting design. The props are -vital- in this production and Morgan Zwonitzer got the memo from the cheese platter all the way to the push present, and Dottie's crafts. I am telling you, it is a must-see.

Susan Clausen is fantastic as Margie printing tones of innocence, pain, and frustration that make the character whole and real. Sheri Allen as Jean is a crack, even when moving props and pieces during the set/scene changes she is funny. A nice histrionic camaraderie comes through between Clausen, Allen, and Bridges as well as with Dennis Peters who plays Stevie the dollar store manager. It was not just engaging, the two hours breezed through up to the point where the intermission is a surprise, you do not see it coming because the plot has you immersed. Ted Leib as the vicious Mike spoonfeeds the doses to the audience and then bam! synchronizing with Amira Temple's own rapport and pace. I could listen to Amira's voice all day, she should consider doing audiobooks (I will request my commission percentage later). The tension onstage between Susan, Ted, and Amira is deliciously uncomfortable, -the type that justifies the price of a ticket- uncomfortable.

Margie "let" her ex Mike go off to college so he could get out of the hood and make something of himself given the opportunity. She remembered him as Good People. When adults reach a certain age, usually past 35 or 40, the younger memories sometimes get romanticized and even blurry. It is when it all comes back together in the present and now that the real personality and character come through. Margie made her decision then and got to confirm the outcome decades later.

A clean, honest team effort is reflected in this production which was greatly appreciated. 

Definitely, a mentally and emotionally stimulating, noteworthy 2023 production. 

There are still a couple of chances to catch it! Do so by clicking here and getting your tickets. Also, check an interview with the cast and director over here. 

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