Arts & Entertainment

Review: Good People

Drew Livingston, Tara Morice, Jane Phegan and Gael Ballantyne PHOTO: Clare Hawley

Margaret is a ‘southie’ – South Boston to be exact, the wrong side of the tracks. Trapped in a cycle of urban poverty and with a disabled daughter, she has little to show for life and few prospects – though she does have bingo. When she loses her meagre job on the checkout at the ‘dollar-store’, there is no money for rent and eviction beckons.

No, this is not the thread of a Springsteen song – it is the Ensemble’s production of the multi-award winning Good People – and it is an endlessly rewarding piece of theatre.

Tara Morice is completely enthralling as Margaret, driving the play relentlessly forward. Her comic timing is impeccable and she makes you really care about her character – so lovably floored and often out of control. Chris Stollery is Mike, an old flame who was once a ‘southie’ but has made it out. He’s a reproductive endocrinologist and married to the much younger Kate, but has he forgotten his roots? Or does he just wish he had? Margaret looks him up, figuring he might be able to give her a job – or at least some contacts – but instead she sees what her life could have been like with a bit of luck and opportunity.

Margaret knows how to push Mike’s buttons and she can’t really help herself, but her inner conflicts begin to emerge. The beginning of Act Two in Mike and Kate’s living room is breathtakingly funny and achingly sad.

From Mark Kilmurry’s deft direction right through the ensemble cast, there’s genuine chemistry here. It’s not a play about ‘good’ people or ‘bad’ people – just ‘real’ people. (GW)

Apr 7–May 21, various show times. Ensemble Theatre, 78 McDougall Street, Kirribilli. $65-$69. Tickets & info: ensemble.com.au or 02 9929 0644.

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