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‘Good People’ Fares OK at the Alliance Theatre

2013 January 29

I can’t figure out how “Good People” got nominated for a Tony Award. But I can certainly see why it didn’t win.

Now playing at the Alliance Theatre, “Good People” is slow. Really slow. So slow that in the first act Mom’s head popped up and down so many times she looked like a Jack-in-the-Box. During intermission she swore she hadn’t fallen asleep,  said she was just resting her head but heard everything. I asked her why she thought the casting director cast a man who looked to be more than a decade younger than Margie (Kate Buddeke) to play the doctor (Thomas Vincent Kelly as Mike) who supposedly dated her when they were in high school. Mom said, “What doctor? There wasn’t a doctor.”

Granted she’s nearing 80, but this is a woman who can’t even fall sleep on a six-hour plane ride. But I guess when scenes last twice as long as necessary, that’s one way to put the crowd to sleep. Margie  has a developmentally disabled daughter. Got it. Margie and her friends grew up in a low-income neighborhood. Got it. Margie got pregnant when she was in high school. Got it.

The first scene starts out good, and it lasts just long enough. We see Margie do all she can to talk her way out of getting fired. We love hearing about all the times she’s been late and laugh when we hear her tell her boss, Stevie (Andrew Benator), about the time his mom tired to steal a turkey from the grocery store. The acting is good, and things flow along nicely, even when we see her get fired. But it’s the next few scenes that move at a turtle’s pace. That is until one of the final scenes in the doctor’s home, which clips along at a nice trot with Margie, Mike, and his wife, Kate (Kristen Ariza) playing nice until the point that Margie reveals that her daughter is Mike’s daughter. Mom’s head was locked straight ahead the entire scene.

If they handed out Tony Awards for best scene, I could see that being nominated. I couldn’t say Good People” is a good play, but the acting sure is.

Written by David Lindsay-Abaire, directed by Susan V. Booth, “Good People” runs through Feb. 10 at the Alliance Theatre.

Cast includes Brenda Bynum and Lala Cochran.

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