Some of the clashes in the play are obvious - old neighborhood versus new associates, poverty versus money, young married woman with toddler versus older single woman with adult child, employer versus employee, landlord versus tenant. Others are more subtle, including the tensions between long-standing friends, and the stranglehold that money holds over everyone's lives. The greatest tension is the one of whether Margie is doing the right thing if she follows Jean's advice to get money from the now-wealthy Mike, claiming he's Joyce's father, or if she'll tell him that he's not the father of her child. Given the truth revealed at the end of the play, which of those is what a good person does? Although in this case Margie does make a choice, whether she does the right thing is open to debate.
Czarnecki is a fine, tough-as-nails but still vulnerable Margie, possessed of a Southie accent that does the neighborhood proud. Whelan and Alexander, as Margie's friends Jean and Dottie, are a comic force to be reckoned with, and it's a pleasure to see last year's Broadway World nominee, Whelan, on the Fulton stage again. Both are fine actors, but together they are indeed greater than the sum of their parts, and their presence can be felt even when they are not on stage.
McLenigan, a Barrymore award winner, is more than capable as Stevie, the conflicted friend of his employee, and though it's necessary to the ending of the play that he recede into the background after the first scene, his presence is always welcome. Herbert and Olmstead are equally competent, but perhaps slightly mis-directed; Kate seems to hide behind the sectional couch in her living room rather than being the forceful, brassy professor the audience knows that she is, or can be; Mike, equally, seems to pull back just slightly, only coming into his own when he's alone in the living room with Margie and his Southie roots finally let themselves free. Their characters need to emerge more, and to breathe; one hopes that during the course of this production that will develop.
GOOD PEOPLE is a good show, and the Fulton's is a good production of it. It's a fine example of why small-cast dramas are often the best kind of theatre. Especially if you haven't seen any of Lindsay-Abaire's other work, it's worth your catching it. At the Fulton through February 17; call 717-394-7133 or visit www.fultontheatre.org.
Photo Credit: Fulton Theatre