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David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Good People” at Deep Dish Is a Depressing But Authentic Slice-of-Life Comedy

Deep Dish Theater Company's cast for David Lindsay-Abaire's "Good People" also includes Rasool Jahan, who is making her Deep Dish debut, shown here with Mark Filiaci (photo by Jonathan Young)

Deep Dish Theater Company’s cast for David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Good People” also includes Rasool Jahan, who is making her Deep Dish debut, shown here with Mark Filiaci (photo by Jonathan Young)

Much of today’s theatre centers around fantastical worlds, lush lives, and other things that, while entertaining, aren’t very in-touch with the average person. The characters featured in David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Good People,” onstage now at Deep Dish Theater Company, are about as close to average as it gets, however. In fact, their mediocrity makes them downright sad. The show’s main focus is on Margie, a haggard, down-on-her-luck woman who has just lost her job at the local dollar store. It’s not the first job she’s lost either; Lindsay-Abaire’s script reveals that Margie is a chronically late employee, due in large part to the fact that she’s the sole caregiver for her handicapped, adult daughter.

There seems to be no way out for Margie, who spends most of her time playing bingo with her always-negative landlady, Dottie (Sharlene Thomas) and her spunky, tell-it-like-it-is friend, Jean (Page Purgar). A glimmer of hope does eventually come, however, in the form of Margie’s old flame, Mike (Mark Filiaci), a now-successful doctor who has managed to rise above his humble beginnings. Margie thinks that she’ll simply ask him for a job, but she ends up intruding on his seemingly-perfect life and revealing the truth behind her own desperate existence in the process.

It’s hard to think of a more perfect Margie than Helen Hagan, looking purposefully tired and run-down for this role but still managing to keep the right amount of fire in her eyes to give the character some much-needed spunk and likeability. While it would be easy to play Margie as purely pitiful, Hagan takes the role to the next level and brings the full depth of Lindsay-Abaire’s rich characterization to life. Her female comrades, Dottie and Jean, are also played perfectly; Purgar provides some-much needed comic  relief and adds color to the dim world inhabited by these characters, while Thomas paints an accurate picture of Dottie as a woman who has learned that, since no one else is going to do it, she must take care of herself first.

Rob Hamilton’s awesome, revolving set and Judy Chang’s smart costuming choices provide the perfect contrast between the working class world of Margie and company and the white collar, pressed-and-proper world of Mike and his beautiful wife, Kate (Rasool Jahan).  Jahan sparkles in her role as sweet but ultimately unsatisfied Kate, creating a character that is equal parts charming and intriguing.

While “Good People” ends on a depressing note, the show’s bittersweet finale perfectly captures the harsh truths that exist in the lives of so many people, making it worth a watch.

Deep Dish Theater Company presents GOOD PEOPLE at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 29, 8 p.m. Aug. 30 and 31, 2 p.m. Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 4 and 5, 8 p.m. Sept. 6 and 7, 2 p.m. Sept. 8, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 11 and 12, and 8 p.m. Sept. 13 and 14 in Deep Dish’s performance space at 201 S. Estes Dr., Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514, between The Print Shop and the Public Library at the Dillard’s end of University Mall.

TICKETS: $24 ($21 seniors), with a $2 discount for Wednesday and Thursday shows, and $16 for students for all shows.

BOX OFFICE: 919-968-1515 or http://www.etix.com/.

SHOW: http://www.deepdishtheater.org/productions?p=60.

NEWS RELEASE: http://www.deepdishtheater.org/news?n=110. 2013-14

SEASON: http://www.deepdishtheater.org/productions.

PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.deepdishtheater.org/.

DIRECTIONS/PARKING: http://www.deepdishtheater.org/location.

DEEP DISH BOOK CLUB: will lead a discussion of Down the Up Escalator: How the 99 Percent Live in the Great Recession by Barbara Garson, starting at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 9th, at the Chapel Hill Public Library, 100 Library Dr., Chapel Hill, NC 27514.

NOTE 1: There will be a preshow “Meet-the-Play” talk at 7 p.m. on on Friday, August 30th.

NOTE 2: There will be a post-performance discussion on Sunday, Sept. 1st, with the cast and Mark Dorosin, managing attorney for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Center for Civil Rights; and a “Meet-the-Designers” discussion on Thursday, Sept. 5th, with the production staff.

OTHER LINKS:

Good People (2011 Broadway play): http://www.manhattantheatreclub.com/past-shows/goodpeople/default.asp (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_People_(play) (Wikipedia).

The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).

David Lindsay-Abaire (American playwright and screenwriter): http://americantheatrewing.org/biography/detail/david_lindsay_abaire (American Theatre Wing) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Lindsay-Abaire (Wikipedia).

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