The current show at the Old Globe’s Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre is called “Good People,” but the title “Complicated People” would make more sense. The characters are not always on their best behavior, and they can switch from cruel to nice in a matter of seconds.
In South Boston’s Lower End, Margaret (Eva Kaminsky), a single mother of an intellectually disabled young woman, gets fired from her job at a dollar store after being consistently late to work as a result of day care issues. Looking for a new job, Margaret decides to reacquaint herself with an old high school boyfriend, Mike (R. Ward Duffy).
While Mike grew up in the same tough environment as Margaret, he is now a big shot fertility doctor with an attractive African-American wife named Kate (Nedra McClyde) and a daughter. Mike seems happy, but disturbed to see Margaret, and the tension between the two continues throughout the rest of the play.
Playwright David Lindsay- Abaire’s (“Rabbit Hole”), dialogue is veritable to real-life relationships. The way in which the six actors talk to each other is unbelievably detailed and specific. This is evident in scenes when Margaret hangs out with her close friend, Jean (Carol Halstead) and landlord Dottie (Robin Pearson Rose). During their conversations, the three share small talk and gossip that doesn’t necessarily move the story forward, but gives the production a realistic edge.
The book also happens to include a lot of quirky comedy, which sometimes is appropriately awkward and at other moments hysterically funny. Margaret and Mike tend to use humor as a way to escape their serious problems.
The cast appears to fulfill their roles rather then act them out. Close your eyes and you would swear you were sitting in the heart of Boston. Kaminsky is stellar as Margaret, a working-class broad from Southie who tries to be the best she can, but feels she was not dealt the best hand in life. When faced with bad news on several occasions, Margaret spirals out of control and goes on intense rants. She counters threat behavior by being thoughtful and considerate to the best of her ability.
Duffy leaves a lasting impression as Mike, whose affable public persona is hiding some big secrets. A George Clooney look-alike, Duffy rises to the difficult task of depicting someone whose cool confidence is a dangerous facade.
Director Paul Mullins has the “Good People” a city feeling. The scenery from Michael Schweikardt is truthful in the way it portrays an apartment, doctor’s office or an upscale home.
“Good People” is a powerful drama with a lot to say about class, luck and the passing of time. Margaret may not be perfect, but she quickly earns sympathy and understanding.
Tickets and information about “Good People” can be found at theoldglobe.org.