David Lindsay-Abaire is a unique American playwright whose output ranges from the calculated silliness of Shrek the Musical to brilliantly dark comedies like Fuddy Meers and Kimberly Akimbo. He's best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning script Rabbit Hole, a painfully honest portrait of a family grieving after the death of a child. Good People, his latest, shows off the playwright's ability to mine comedy from difficult circumstances and opens at Circuit Playhouse this week with a top-notch cast that includes Michael Gravois, Kim Justis, and Irene Crist.
Gravois, who appeared alongside Crist and Justis in Rabbit Hole, describes Good People as a mystery of sorts. "Who is the title describing?" he asks, remembering how his allegiances kept shifting when he first read the script. Set in Boston's Southie neighborhood, a tough, working-class neighborhood defined by its row houses and narrow streets, Good People tells the story of Maggie Walsh, who is fired from her job as a dollar store cashier due to excessive tardiness. Desperate for a job, Maggie visits Mike, an old boyfriend who is now a doctor.
"There's a lot roiling under the surface," Gravois says. "There's affluence vs. working class, perception vs. reality, truth vs. lies, selfishness vs. selflessness. But one of the themes that I find most interesting is how much of our good fortune can we attribute to luck versus how hard we work. In America, we're told that if you work hard, you will be rewarded. But is that really true?"
Although Good People contemplates serious issues like unemployment and class structure, director Dave Landis describes it as being "not nearly as depressing as Rabbit Hole."
"It's very real, from the heart without getting too preachy or political," Landis says. "Good People," at Circuit Playhouse, August 31st-September 23rd. playhouseonthesquare.org