Good People

Reviewed by Regina Su

Have you ever thought your life would be different if you had just a few lucky breaks, or a leg up in life?  If only a few opportunities came around your way, would things be different for the better? ‘Good People’ by David Lindsay-Abaire is a play that looks into dispelling the myth that if you're good and hardworking, you can get anywhere in life.

The play has such humanity.  Set in a lower socio-economic area, Margaret (Tara Morice) reconnects with old friend, Mike (Christopher Stollery), who seems to have done well for himself after getting out of the Southside. From there, life’s struggles are brought to the forefront, as we wonder if things would've been different. It's a very simple storyline, but The Ensemble does wonders with it.

‘Good People’ is expertly written, by Pulitzer prize winning playwright, David Lindsay-Abaire. The play thrives off misdirection, as key characters withhold information, which snowballs into a murky pool of miscommunication and old regret.  Tara Morice is excellent as Margaret.  She plays her character as steadfast, headstrong and with a strong sense of justice. Yet, Morice gives her depth and compassion, a moral compass that begs the question- did she make the right decision years ago when it mattered? Does sacrifice make you a good person?

The Ensemble does well to show the balance in conflicting perspectives here,  as we are left without a definitive answer. Zindzi Okenyo’s performance of Kate is only for a short time in the second act, yet her own mix of complexities allows for another voice- our moral judgment is suddenly redundant as Kate challenges Margaret,  and we're left just as conflicted as the characters. The climax of the whole production builds upon nailbiting tension from scenes before and suddenly, the audience take a collective gasp. It would be very difficult to divorce yourself from the play. We were all involved and connected to some element of the plot or characters.

The performance received a standing ovation from the audience in opening night.  The cast deserved it too- their roles are emotionally complex audience and would be mentally taxing. The minor characters also had deep layers,  adding humor and humanity to the production.

Finally, commendations to the set designer and production team.  With a limited set, they were able to bring the Southside to life. I was gripped by this performance at The Ensemble. An electric cast, a professional crew, tackling life’s hardest questions.


Photo by Joe Williams