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Theater review: 'Good People,' 3.5 stars

8. GOOD PEOPLE (closed) Pulitzer Prize winner David

8. GOOD PEOPLE (closed)

Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire ("Rabbit Hole") combined his sober and his painful lunatic sides in this stealthily gripping tragicomedy set in blue-collar South Boston. Frances McDormand was unforgettable as a woman stuck struggling in the old neighborhood who encounters the old boyfriend who made it out.

Good People
3.5 stars

Because he’s been too busy writing screenplays and mediocre musicals based on movies, it’s taken David Lindsay-Abaire five years to pen a worthy follow-up to his Pulitzer-winning domestic drama “Rabbit Hole.”

But “Good People,” which is being staged by Manhattan Theatre Club and directed by Daniel Sullivan, actually surpasses “Rabbit Hole” — which at times felt like an annoying Lifetime television movie — on numerous levels.

“Good People” begins with Margie Walsh (played by Frances McDormand), a single mother raised in a blue-collar neighborhood in South Boston, being fired from her cashier job at a dollar store. She has shown up late for work once too many times trying to care for her mentally challenged  adult daughter.

On the verge of being evicted and desperate for a new job, she looks up Mike (Tate Donovan), a former boyfriend who escaped the old neighborhood and went on to become a wealthy doctor.

Although Margie is initially invited to a party at Mike’s home, where she hopes she can meet employers, she receives a call that it’s been cancelled. But convinced that Mike’s wife forced him to disinvite her, Margie shows up at his doorstep anyway.

A brilliant and uproarious second act consists of an extremely tense conversation over wine between Margie, Mike and his younger, very intelligent wife. While Margie derides Mike as “lace-curtain Irish” and ashamed of his roots, Mike blames Margie for her poor economic situation.

The play is consistently funny, topical, well-structured, and  insightful on class mobility and prejudice.

Director Daniel Sullivan brings out strong performances from the entire cast, including an eccentric turn from Estelle Parsons as Margie’s chain-smoking landlord and a fiery performance with a combative edge by McDormand.


If you go

“Good People” plays at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre through May 8. 261 W. 47th St., 212-239-6200, mtc-nyc.org.

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