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Sunday 9 March 2014

Good People, Play by David Lindsay-Abaire, starring Imelda Staunton, Hampstead Theatre, London 7* out of 10

In rough, Irish working-class South Boston, Margie (Imelda Staunton), middle-aged mother of a grown-up handicapped daughter is again about to lose her job as a cashier in a supermarket.  She knows that her friend, sometime child-sitter and landlady Dottie (June Watson) will not remain friendly to her if the rent-money stops coming in. Her other friend and bingo-playing companion Jean (Lorraine Ashbourne) suggests she get in touch with an old boy-friend Mikey (Lloyd Owen), who has escaped life in South Boston and is a successful specialist physician with his own practice. When Margie and Mikey meet again, the tension between their common past and uncommon present gives rise to some uncomfortable confrontations.

After a slow first act, David Lindsay-Abaire’s play picks up pace and quality in the second. It does however not get as far as to question cherished liberal tenets on the inherent “good people”-hood of the working classes; not that the good people of Hampstead including your reviewer, who filled the seats of their local theatre, would mind too much. Director Jonathan Kent delivers an entertaining and professional quality production to West End standards. Imelda Staunton is excellent as always, leading a good cast. Angel Colby gives an excellent performance as Mikey’s wife Kate. Hildegard Bechtler’s set moves faultlessly between South Boston, the city centre and its wealthy suburbs.  A worthwhile, entertaining and not too challenging evening at the theatre.

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