Photo by Don Kellogg

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Good People

David Lindsay Abaire's new work at Manhattan Theatre Club's Mainstage - The Freidman Theatre (I still call it the Biltmore), may only be taking its first-ever bows but already I can tell this play will be a juggernaut.  Abaire's biting wit and stinging social commentary plunge into the audience like a sharp knife into a raw steak.

The plot centers around Margaret (Frances McDormand) , a down-on-your-luck, brutally honest, not-so-educated, but quick-on-her-feet, god-fearing, life-long resident of South Boston's tough as nails, blue-collar, Lower End known as Southie.  At the curtain goes up (or the geometric panels retract, as it were) she is being fired from her latest job at the local dollar store.  We soon see her back at her apartment socializing with her close friends, Jean (Becky Ann Baker) and Dottie (Estelle Parsons).  With some brutally funny and poignantly sharp dialogue, they are discussing and gossiping about how Margaret will make ends meet for her and her retarded adult daughter.  There's little hope and lots of worry, but through it all there's an sense that this latest turn of events may not be the worst of times for these folks.

Encouraged by her friends, Margaret takes her job hunt to a (now) "comfortable" doctor she went to high school with in Southie over 30 years ago.  They dated briefly and their breakup just might coincide with the time frame that her daughter was born.  He "got out" and made something for himself.  What will she say to him?  How does the meeting go?   These questions and more will be answered.  Or will they?

Even at just the first week of previews, Parsons and McDormand are turning in top notch performances - and it will only get better from here.  My dear friend Donna is usually a bellwether of good actors and great plays - but I fear she may have mis-under-estimated the humor and depth of this fine work.  I encourage her and everyone else to check out some Good People on West 47th.