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Interplayers’ production of ‘Good People’ displays raw human nature, humor

In “Good People,” the line between being a good person and a bad one is blurred. No one is ever fully one or the other, and no situation is black and white.

The strength of the Tony Award-nominated drama, written by David Lindsay-Abaire, is its honest depiction of people, with all their flaws. Interplayers Theatre’s production, directed by the Rev. Jack Bentz (a Jesuit who works at Gonzaga University), features wit and some fine performances. The South Boston – Southie – characters and the way they are portrayed are easily relatable.

Page Byers plays Margie, a single mother of an adult daughter with special needs, who loses her minimum-wage job at the beginning of the story. Byers’ portrayal is fairly warm and likable, ensuring sympathy from the audience for her situation. Still, she knows how to wield her passive-aggressiveness to manipulate situations and turn the knife.

Mike (Michael Patten), who grew up in Southie and now is a doctor living in a ritzy part of town, is all suppressed emotion and past grievances. He maintains control, too well sometimes, until the second act when Margie’s goading strips all his pretense.

His wife, Kate (Kaila Towers), is friendly when she meets Margie, and the bond the two women share is interesting to watch. Their status as mothers connects them, but their different social stations separate them, creating tension.

What is missing in the production is the undercurrent of anger and frustration indicated by the play’s lines that should color the delivery of the dialogue. Margie could be even sharper, and Kate needs more of the bitterness of a woman who has been wronged by her husband.

The humor in the show is well mined by all the players. Laurel Paxton, as Dottie, and Tamara Schupman, as Jean, have great comic timing and are funny as Margie’s friends. One never knows what biting wit will fly out of their mouths.

The storyline contains themes of class and race and shows human beings simply trying to eke out a life in a poor urban neighborhood. One major plot twist raises questions: What is the truth? Is Margie a master manipulator or a victim of circumstance? Can anyone really rise above? Unraveling those mysteries are part of the satisfaction in the play and Interplayers’ rendition.

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