Nancy Sasso Janis / Critic 'Good People' is a play written in 2011 by David Lindsay-Abaire, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, screenwriter, lyricist and librettist. He wrote the book and lyrics for 'Shrek the Musical' and his other plays include 'Fuddy Mears,' 'Kimberly Akimbo' and 'Rabbit Hole.' 'Good People' is his latest play and a fine production of it opened at Square One Theatre Company in Stratford CT on Friday.
Square One is celebrating their 25th this year, but the company will be venue-less after the close of the last production of the 2014-2015 season on May 30. The owners of their current stage, the former Stratford Theater movie house on Main Street, no longer want to rent the space. The CT Post recently ran an excellent piece about the plight of this respected theater company looking for a new home.
'Good People' is set in the present in South Boston's Lower End and Chestnut Hill, MA, so appropriately there are Boston accents. The engrossing story involves a single mother named Margie, magnificently played by Janet Rathert, who is struggling to support her handicapped adult daughter Joyce. Stevie, played by Darius James Copeland in his Square One debut, is her boss at the Dollar Store. He must reluctantly fire her for being chronically late because her landlady Dottie (played to the hilt by Alice McMahon) is late showing up to care for Joyce.
Brian Michael Riley played Mike, a high school boyfriend of Margie who has made it out of Southie and made it big as a doctor. Jessica Myers, who I remembered from Godspell at SCSU, played his young wife. Danielle Sultini rounded out the cast as Jean, a mouthy long-time friend of Margie. Every member of this cast turned in a strong performance.
Square One Theatre Company's Artistic Director Tom Holehan has directed the play with precision. I liked how the scenes in the first act were presented in front of the curtain on alternating sides of the stage. The cast hit the comedic notes without watering down the drama. Judy Keegan's costumes added to the authenticity, as did the scenery by Greg Fairbend and Robert Mastroni on this shallow stage. Incidental music between scenes had an Irish flavor.
I was impressed with the quality of the work of this theatre company and the amount of dedicated patrons from my hometown and the surrounding area who came out for the matinée performance. The hefty program included many ads from supporters and a two-page list of donors. For over eleven seasons, the theatre presented special morning performances of productions to Stratford High School and my alma mater Bunnell High School. The theatre also presents a summer teen theater where area teens produce, direct and perform their own productions. I sincerely hope that they can find a place to launch their 26th season so that I can come back for another review.
Friends of Square One will host their annual Spring Luncheon to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the company. It will be held on Thursday, April 23 at noon at Mill River Country Club in Stratford. Tickets are $30 per person. RSVP 203 394-1969