I didn’t catch it at Hampstead, but when David Lindsay-Abaire’s play Good People transferred to the Noël Coward Theatre I caved and bought a ticket, partly because it was cheap and partly because of the great reviews. I am happy to report that the play more than lived up to expectations.
I didn’t think the Americans “got” class, but clearly I was wrong, as Good People is a sharp and highly topical piece of work on the subject. Main character Margie is in desperate circumstances: she has just lost her job and she is a single mother with a disabled daughter to support. As a last resort, she appeals to an old boyfriend, Mike, who despite sharing her difficult background managed to become a successful doctor.
The play examines how circumstances affect life chances: Margie points out that his caring but strict father helped Mike to succeed, while needing to care for her daughter means Margie herself has lost jobs over the years. However, the play is not quite clear-cut: Mike’s determination to improve himself is in many ways admirable, and Margie’s motives are not always praiseworthy.
The actors are superb: Imelda Staunton is fantastic in the main role of Margie, and Lloyd Owen is excellent as her former partner, while his wife, played by Angel Coulby, almost steals the show in Act 2. The play is brilliantly funny, too; overall it is a joy to watch, and I am incredibly glad I went for a last-minute ticket.