In all of our lives, we have ghosts. Ghosts that define us and make us who we are today. This season , Steppenwolf Theatre ‘s slate of plays all address this issue in one form or another. The season opener, “Good People” , by Pulitzer Prize winning author, David Lindsay Abaire, is one of such plays. I applaud the cast because they melded so well together, and they looked like they were all having fun. This is one of the landmarks of a great production-chemistry.
Mariann Mayberry plays a character who is uncomfortable, she is not comfortable as a Southie and then she shows that she is not comfortable in the posh world either. Life hasnt been kind to her and the latest blow has come. She has a daughter that has problems, no man in the picture, and just lost her job. Margie decides to take action and contacts a former Southie made good. Keith Kupferer shines as the boy who made good, Mike. Mike is a doctor who has risen from the projects and lives in a different world now. Margie remembers her dear friend and then asks him for a job. Stuck in a difficult position, he is forced to invite his old friend to his posh house for his birthday party. Margie’s partner in crime, Jean , is portrayed by Lusia Strus . Jean eggs her on in her plot to get something from Mike. Jean is strong and sarcastic and fun. Margie has opposition as well in Dottie ,her old woman landlord who wants to support her, but also has her own interests at heart. The shrewy old woman is played by Molly Regan. I loved the little bunnies she makes to sell at Bingo. (Note: I have relatives from Boston and they call it Beano)
Finding out , there is no party, Margie makes the trek to Mike’s . She expects to find him caught in a lie. Instead, she is treated to a lovely evening with Mike and his wife, Kate . Alana Arenas truly shines in this role as the innocent wife who comes from privilege . Kate knows about Mike’s past but relishes this chance to dig deeper into his roots. She is cordial, but can down and dirty if need be. All is not paradise in their house , since the couple have been in therapy for quite some time. The fireworks begin as the trio engage in a battle filled with accusations and lies. This has to be one of the most tense parts of the whole production . It has the audience member on the edge of their seat and not really sure who is the good or bad guy at this point. It is also the perfect way to address socio economic conditions in our society. The haves and the have nots so to speak, are put on opposing ends of the social spectrum.
The cast is rounded out with Will Allan as Steve, the conscience of the production. He starts out as a villain and ends up a hero. He plays the part with such nebbishness . He represents the momma’s boy in every one ‘s life. “Good People” is directed by another award winning Steppenwolf ensemble member, K Todd Freeman. Each performance ends with a thought provoking discussion that allows the audience to analyze social issues addressed in the production. The show runs until November 11. Steppenwolf Theatre is located at 1650 N Halsted.