Two years ago, my friend C invited me to come see Good People at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago with her. I was really glad I did for several reasons. First, it’s a really, really good play. Second, before it started, we were talking about where we were in the doctoral work (we started out together and are the only two in our year), and she helped me sort out some of the self-defeat and pessimism I’d been experiencing. Seriously, I could not have done without her no-nonsense wisdom. So this play brings back good memories. And, like I said, an amazing play. I’m surprised they haven’t turned it into a movie yet.
Margaret, or Margie, Walsh has been evicted from yet another job in her South Boston (Southie) suburb, because her adult daughter Joyce can’t keep a reliable caregiver. Driven to desperation and the fear of eviction, Margaret seeks out her old friend and brief high school boyfriend Mike, now a successful doctor and living in the wealthy neighborhood of Chestnut Hill. But when Margaret goes to his home and meets his wife and young daughter, she is surprised by the disparity of their worlds.
The title of the play comes from Margie’s description of Mike as “good people,” but the more you hear about their life in Southie, you have to wonder what it *really* means to be “good people.” That’s one of the most interesting things about the play, not to mention the socioeconomic commentary that Lindsay-Abaire engages with. Is it merit that gets us out of bad circumstances, or is it sometimes just plain luck? I really like this play a lot, and I definitely see myself teaching it in the years to come.