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Performing arts

"Good People" bows at the Weekend Theater

Bad things can happen within good people, as they make the choices – sometimes consciously, sometimes not – that will change their lives forever.

And in “Good People” by David Lindsay-Abaire, the results are dark comedy. Or maybe that should be comic drama? Take your pick as you watch – this play is meant to spark some entertaining debate.

The Tony Award-nominated play opens Friday, Sept. 7, at the Weekend Theater, Seventh and Chester streets in downtown Little Rock. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Sept. 17. Tickets cost $16 for general admission, $12 for students and seniors age 65 and over. To make reservations, visit the Web site www.weekendtheater.org; for information only, call (501) 374-3761.

“It’s a very thought-provoking and entertaining show,” says director Andy Hall. “It is about the economic times, but more than that, it’s about people – we all have different sides, we’re many shades of gray.”

Single mother Margie (Patti Airoldi) loses her job as a cashier in a South Boston dollar store, fired by manager Stevie (Johnnie Brannon) for excessive tardiness. It’s not because Margie is an irresponsible slacker; she just can’t find an adequate caretaker for the mentally disabled grown daughter who lives with her, and therefore often has to stay home to deal with the daily crises that arise.

Longtime friends Dottie (Patti German) and Jean (Samantha Porter) help her commiserate, with plenty of earthy humor. In desperation to find a job, any job, Margie seeks out old high school boyfriend Mike (Duane Jackson), who has escaped the old neighborhood and is now a successful, wealthy fertility doctor. Showing up unannounced at his office, she manages to wrangle an invitation to a party given by Mike’s wife, Kate (Felicia Richardson).

Lindsay-Abaire (who grew up in the blue collar “Southie” neighborhood himself) doesn’t provide any easy answers as his characters wrestle with issues of race, class, and the hand fate deals each of us. “The writing is very ambiguous,” says Hall. “What we’ve found as we’ve rehearsed is, everyone comes across with a slightly different interpretation. We’ve had a lot of fun, and a couple of heated debates, but it’s been very productive.
Lindsay-Abaire’s clever mix of ribald humor and quieter, three-dimensional depth provides a hilarious, poignant look at how those “just getting by” and “comfortably off” may be more closely entwined than they might think.
“It’s complex, just like life,” Hall says.

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