“Good People” at Bas Bleu is close inspection of role of luck in life’s game.

Good-People-BB

Bas Bleu Drama Looks at Difficulty in Rising Above Inherent Social Implications

Reviewed by Tom Jones, May 29, 2016

Wendy Fulton-Adams is excellent as Margie, a down-on-her-luck cashier in a Dollar Store who is laid off from her job in South Boston. She is not particularly likeable, and gives the impression that she has done nothing wrong, except for constant tardiness. She argues with her employer, unsuccessfully pleading with him to let her keep her job. Her two adult friends, Dottie and Jean, commiserate with her, going so far as to say that Margie is such a “good person,” and should not be treated so harshly at work. Miriam Chase and Jeanne Nott are convincing as the two foul-mouthed “Southie” friends. While wanting to say how “good” Margie is, they are not willing to admit that the cause of her dismissal has a lot to do with them. Margie doesn’t have much going for her. She is a single mother, raising a handicapped daughter who was born shortly after Margie finished high school. Her husband subsequently left her.

Natalie Davis-Smith, Tom Auclair and Wendy Fulton-Adams, Photo Credit Steve Finnestead Photography
Natalie Davis-Smith, Tom Auclair and Wendy Fulton-Adams, Photo Credit Steve Finnestead Photography

The three friends are all trapped in a time-warp of class and culture mores, with no apparent means of escape. They were all raised in a tough part of town, and none of them has found a way “out.” Their idea of excitement is playing Bingo in the basement of the local church. They chat about another Bingo player, a young adult, Stevie, claiming that he is probably gay, as he is just about the only male bingo player. Stevie, unfortunately, is the Dollar Store boss who fired Margie. Brian Fritz is a welcome newcomer to the Bas Bleu stage, portraying Stevie with compassion. Could it be that he is actually a “good” person?

In their Bingo conversations Margie learns that an old flame has turned up, someone she dated for a couple of months at the end of her high school education. One of her friends saw him at a special program, reporting that he is now a successful fertility doctor in Boston. Margie’s eyes light up – just maybe this old flame. Mike, could be a “good” person and open some doors to her finding a job. She turns up at Mike’s office without an appointment, and refuses to leave until she finagles an invitation to the birthday party for Mike’s child. This might be a chance for her to hobnob with Mike’s professional friends in an effort to find employment. Margie is one tough cookie, and she is now so low on the economic totem pole, that she will do nearly anything to find a job.

Tom Auclair and Natalie Smith-Davis. Photo Credit Steve Finnestead Photography
Tom Auclair and Natalie Smith-Davis. Photo Credit Steve Finnestead Photography

Prior to the date of the party, Mike calls to say the party has been cancelled. Margie believes he is lying, and finds her way to Mike’s Chestnut Hill doorstep to crash the party. She is greeted by Mike’s wife, Kate who initially thinks that Margie is someone from the catering company who has dropped by to pick up tables and chairs from the cancelled party. Tom Auclair and Natalie Davis are both remarkable in their portrayal of Mike and Kate, persons who may have started out with enormous social challenges, but who have now arrived at the top of their game. Kate claims she wants to hear more about Mike’s teenage years. Mike is horrified, but Margie is most willing to oblige. Telling too much. The scene is highly uncomfortable for Mike, for Margie, for Kate, and ultimately for the entire audience.

Miriam Chase and Brian Fritz, Photo Credit Steve Finnestead Photography
Miriam Chase and Brian Fritz, Photo Credit Steve Finnestead Photography

This is tough stuff, and director Cheryl King has carefully guided her cast through a labyrinth of challenges, looking at “goodness,” and what part sheer luck plays in everyone’s journey. Written by David Lindsay-Abaire, “Good People” premiered in New York City in 2011 and was nominated for two Tony Awards – Best Play and Best Leading Actress in a Play. Frances McDormand won that award. The play has subsequently been performed in many theatres in the United States, Australia, and Europe. Lindsay-Abaire’s earlier play, Rabbit Hole,” won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The set is ambitious, as scenes change from the alley behind the Dollar Store, to Margie’s kitchen, to Dr. Mike’s office, to the Church Basement Bingo, and to Mike’s home in Chestnut Hill. The Chestnut Hill set is particularly interesting, and quite elaborate. Susan Crabtree is credited for scenic design, with Conwell Dickey as master carpenter.

Acting is very good throughout, with Wendy Fulton-Adams and Tom Auclair carrying most of the load as Margie and Mike. Mike wants to think they have outgrown their challenges from high school days. Margie has reason to believe they never will. This is a well-told tale!

“Good People”
When: Through June 26, 2016
Where: Bas Bleu Theatre, 401 Pine Street, Fort Collins, CO 80524-2433
For Tickets: 970/498-8949
Online: basbleu.org

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