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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Good People

You‘re like someone on a TV show.
— Margaret to Mike, the Southie boy who made good
 Good People
Jane Kaczmarek in Good People
You can take the boy out of South Boston but you can't take South Boston out of the boy, as shrewdly expressed in David Lindsay-Abaire's Good People having its West Coast premiere at the Geffen Playhouse. The scenes are terse, the dialogue crisp and you won't stop laughing as the playwight cannily spins his wry sadly funny tale.

Good People is the story of Margie (Jane Kaczmarek), a middle-aged woman struggling to raise her retarded daughter alone, and Mike (Jon Tenney) whom she meets again after many years. Now a successful doctor, he makes no effort to look her up but Margie, who has just been fired —- again! — from the latest in a series of low-level jobs, sees him as a perspective opportunity. He preens at seeing her but soon find he's no more a match for her than he ever was. He's still unable to avoid being trapped into inviting her to his party which he had no desire to do.

Still it's no surprise when, on the eve of the party, he calls and tells her it's been cancelled because of a family emergency. Not believing him, Margie shows up anyway and finds herself alone with Mike and his wife Kate (Cherise Boothe). Kate is much younger and black. The scene , which begins cautiously, soon deteriorates into an explosion of many years of repressed pain. There's fighting, screaming, brawling in the good old Southie way.

Lindsay-Abaire gives no easy answers. But the characters from Southie are so vibrant that one no more pities them than they pity themselves. They accept or they leave. The rare ones like Mike, who is described as "lace-curtain,, are pushed into achievement.

Jane Kaczmarek is brilliant as Margie. Her timing is impeccable and her fierceness which comes from a lack of loving parents and the responsibility of a retarded child is powerful.

Jon Tenney, fresh from a sucessful run on the TV series The Closer, turns in his best performance yet as Mike. As he and his wife struggle through a marriage counselor, you see the bewilderment and obtuseness of this man.

As Dottie, Marylouise Burke is a trip. It's a broad performance but a lovable one. Cherise Boothe is lithe, lovely and strong as Kate. Director Matt Shakman shrewdly plays the ends of the play.

Good People is a good play, one that will haunt you, mournfully and with an occasional chuckle. Lindsay-Abaire has never forgotten the pungent tone of Southie and it all comes through.

For Elyse Sommer's review of Good People when it premiered on Broadway, which also includes links to reviews of other Lindsay-Abaire plays, click here.
Title: Good People
Playwright: David Lindsay-Abaire
Director: Matt Shakman
Cast: Jane Kaczmarek (Margie), Brad Fleischer (Stevie), Marylouise Burke (Dottie), Sara Botsford (Jean), Jon Tenney (Mike), Cherise Boothe (Kate).
When: April 11, 2012-May
Where: Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles. Reservations: 310-208-6500.
Reviewed by Laura Hitchcock on April 13, 2012.
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