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Some very 'Good People' at Carpenter Square

David Lindsay Abaire explores his South Boston roots in “Good People” currently showing at Carpenter Square in Oklahoma City. This award winning play shares the life story of a single mother and her struggle to care for her disabled adult daughter amidst urban blight and despair. This is a timely show, as the lives of the trapped ‘southies’ mirror the current middle class, as the U.S. economy struggles in recovery. Meager jobs and meaner pay is a genuine concern for everyone.

Margie is unable to find reliable care for her daughter and is often late for work. Stevie is her boss and he is also the son of a friend but his only choice is to fire her. Her friends, Dottie and Jean are sympathetic and as Dottie is also her landlady they eagerly look for solutions. The best idea suggested is for Margie to visit her old boyfriend, Mike and see if he has any contacts. Mike is one of the few ‘southies’ to escape the rat race of the working poor neighborhood. He is now a well-to-do doctor married to an elegant college professor, Kate.

“Good People” is directed by Ben Hall and he leads the cast through the wordy discussions of fate in circumstance. One wonders if Margie is just one of the unlucky ones, and Mike’s success a matter of luck rather than diligence. Margie interacts with her friends as an equal, but then her resentment begins to show with Mike. Not only is he the one who got away from the drudgery in the old neighborhood, he is also the one that got away. She left him in the old days, and perhaps some regrets are manifested as well as some jealousy for his secure life. Margaret has nothing in common with his beautiful wife Kate, but she is not intimidated. Since Kate is African American, perhaps an element of racism allows Margaret to feel superior on one level. The play is all about personal responsibility and how much personal pride a body must shed to survive.

Rhonda Clark, Artistic Director for Carpenter Square, has a chance to perform and she handles the role of Margie with aplomb. The role is not an easy one; while the parameters are broad, her character is narrow. Clark does a great job letting the audience see the desperate thoughtlessness of her decisions alongside a sense of fair play. Brandon Smith is Stevie, destined to be a low-level manager of a dollar store forever. He is proud of his accomplishments, yet aware that he is also trapped. Friends Dottie and Jean are a nice foil for Margaret with slightly understated humor, marginally overplayed with perfection. Doobie Potter as Dottie is especially amusing, and Carol McDonald as Jean is boiling and boisterous.

Mark Johnson is very nice as the prominent doctor and former boyfriend Mike. Johnson shows us someone conflicted about his origins, wavering between chagrin and relief as Margaret unintentionally forces him to confront himself. Ariel Richardson is wife Kate and she turns in a very strong performance using tension and timing with honesty and wisdom.

In addition to directing, Hall also designed an innovative set, smoothly defining locations. “Good People” is thought provoking as well as amusing, and is a must see for anyone who has ever sweated out unemployment. The play runs through June 6 at Carpenter Square, 800 W. Main in downtown Oklahoma City. Ticket information is available at 405-232-6500 or at Come early and view the excellent art work in the lobby. Sandy Wallace is an accomplished and talented artist with beautiful pieces on display.

Elizabeth Hurd

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