“And the Tony for most dynamic performance in a local production goes to. . .” If Kansas City could be included in the prestigious Broadway theater awards that presentation would be made to Jan Rogge for her role as Margaret in the current production of “Good People”. The play written by David Lindsay-Abaire and directed by Mark Robbins opened Saturday March 2nd at the Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City. The production is a joint venture of the Unicorn Theatre and the Kansas City Actors Theatre. Robbins is a founding member of the Kansas City Actors Theatre and has directed shows for both groups.
With her performance as Margaret, Rogge has set the bar high for other Kansas City performers. She provides one of the most dynamic presentations seen on any Kansas City stage. Margaret is the type of character that everyone knows and can relate to. Whether she is fighting to save her job, or out of desperation and resentment, lashing back at a former boyfriend, her performance is so strong that she becomes Margaret. She doesn’t appear to be acting; her dialogue is exactly as we expect to hear it in normal everyday life.
The play centers on Margaret, the mother of a mentally challenged child, who loses her job. With money growing short and rent due she listens to her friend Jean and looks up a former boyfriend who has made it out of South Boston. What follows is an intense exchange between the two of them and his wife Kate, resulting in a fight between classes that demonstrates how far a person may go to care for their child.
Scott Cordes as Mike, Margaret’s former boyfriend, is superb as the doctor who has made his way out of South Boston. At one point, during a scene in which Mike is extremely mad at Margaret, the performance Cordes gives is so strong that the audience truly expects a physical confrontation. His character helps to build upon the tension to an unexpected conclusion.
The supporting cast, Kathleen Warfel as Dottie, Manon Halliburton as Jean, Dianne Yvette as Kate and Phillip Russell Newman as Stevie should all be applauded for performances that make this production one of the best in Kansas City. The east coast accent, used by cast members, sounds so genuine that off-stage you expect them to sound the same. Halliburton pulls off the wit of Margaret’s bingo playing partner with fantastic timing and facial expressions, giving the audience a brief moment of comedic relief that is truly needed.
“Good People” runs through March 24 at the Unicorn Theatre.