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Good People review at East Riding Theatre, Beverley – ‘sharply funny’

Janet Price, Nada Sharp and Joy Brook in Good People at East Riding Theatre, Beverley. Photo: Gavin Prest Janet Price, Nada Sharp and Joy Brook in Good People at East Riding Theatre, Beverley. Photo: Gavin Prest
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David Lindsay-Abaire’s 2011 play, Good People, is set within the tough underbelly of South Boston: “Southie” to its citizens.

With Donald Trump’s ascent built in part on the support of these blue-collar neighbourhoods, it seems a timely moment to revisit it.

Adrian Rawlins’ staging does an excellent job of teasing apart the play’s themes – the desire to escape a tough background – while harnessing the rhythms of the script. The accents sound authentic, to these ears at least, and Lindsay-Abaire’s gloriously cascading lines – tales of Southie’s eccentric citizens, the feuds and the tough truths of their lives – ripple along as naturally as banter in a pub.

Focused on the diverging lives of struggling single mother Margaret (Joy Brook) and her former sweetheart Mike (Rory Murray), whose intelligence and graft has elevated him to a swanky house on the hill, it’s a finely tuned debate on the reality of the American dream.

But what could seem as grim as any kitchen sink drama is made strangely uplifting. The writing is often very funny and the drama doesn’t encourage us to feel sorry for any of the characters.

The performances are finely-tuned performances – particularly the trio of Margaret, her friend Jean (Nada Sharp) and her landlady Dottie (Janet Prince), as they set the world to rights. They never feel like stereotypes. These are real, rounded people, complex in motivation. In a time of increasing division, this is a message which seems more important than ever.

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Verdict
Assured revival of David Lindsay-Abaire’s sharply funny look at America’s haves and have nots
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