“Good People” at Seattle Rep

So what defines good people, and who are the good ones on this stage? David Lindsay-Abaire’s Tony nominated play doesn’t provide easy answers. At the end of this splendid production you may well be wondering just how to answer that question. Meantime you’ll laugh loudly, weep silently at desperate lives, and question just where the truth lies here and in so much else in life.

This production directed by David Saint and co-produced by Seattle Rep and George Street Playhouse is brilliant. I saw the play in New York, and it’s better here. James Youmans’ set with its stage-wide panoramas of Boston’s Southside neighborhood draw you into that community even before you meet the beleaguered Margaret whose difficult life is the central story.

Ellen McLaughlin as Margaret epitomizes a world-beaten woman who is forced to face still one more devastating blow. Her shoulder shrugs, eyebrow lifts, lip clenches, and every other body gesture tell everything. Cynthia Lauren Tewes as her landlady cum friend and Marianne Owen as her well-meaning friend spit out their funny lines with verve and perfect timing.

The entire cast has been faultlessly chosen, just right for their parts. Watch Zakiya Young playing the upper class wife of one of Margaret’s former boyfriends. He’s the only Southie Margaret knows who has truly made it, and Margaret wants a favor from him. Young’s character has a lot to take in when Margaret drops by, and she, too, says so much with body language and facial expressions.

This is a play about class differences. It’s an exploration of the role luck plays in our lives, but, above all, it’s an exploration of what constitutes a good person. Fine play combined with a superb production make it a real winner.

Through March 31 at Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer St., Seattle, (206 443-2222 or www.seattlerep.org)

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