Good People at the Noel Coward
David Lindsay-Abaire’s dark comedy Good People comes to London and is welcomed with open arms. It tackles the subjects of class, morality and luck while still being hilarious, full of energy and thoroughly entertaining.
Starring Imelda Staunton as a single mother struggling in South Boston after losing her job, she contacts an old school friend who has become a doctor in the hopes of finding work. What follows is a lively, bittersweet comedy about chance and choices that is rich with delightfully awkward humour and moments of tragedy.
Staunton demands attention from the opening scene as the brash and likeable Margaret, showcasing her true comic talents and excellent timing. She throws herself into the role as the tragically nice protagonist, delivering the snappy dialogue with unwavering passion. She is joined by a near-perfect supporting cast, all playing colourful, dynamic characters glittering away among the bingo halls and dollar stores. Lorraine Ashbourne plays Jean, Margaret’s shameless friend, and is a joy to watch, while Lloyd Owen is excellent as the love-to-hate Dr Mike.
Inspired by Abaire’s childhood, the play is incredibly authentic, brimming with strong female characters and observations on the class divide that are consistently funny and unquestionable. The scenes in Margaret’s small apartment and the dire bingo hall are a wonderland of wit and humanity, but it’s when the elaborate stage swings around and Margaret joins her old friend in the nice part of town that the play really sets off. Here, as the reminiscing begins and the social differences flow, the true magic happens.
Jonathan Kent directs with remarkable discipline and sets a thoroughly engaging pace, building the play carefully for the excellent climatic sequence. The play balances great laughs with heart-breaking reality perfectly, creating tension hard to watch but impossible to look away from.
Good People is an entertaining and insightful production with plenty of heart and enduring optimism.
Good People is at the Noel Coward Theatre until 14th June 2014, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch actors Imelda Staunton and Lloyd Owen discuss the play here: