Hollywood stars often cause a stir in the west end theatre scene by coming to star in shows. But what makes a really good theatre actor? Take Hellen Mirren in the Audience last year (for example). She was good because she was Helen Mirren and everyone loves her. Imelda Staunton in Good People however, is good because she makes you forget who she is and draws you totally in to her character. Now that is a deserving Hollywood star.
Margaret (Imelda Staunton) works in the dollar store, scraping by however she can to provide for herself and her disabled daughter. Times are hard and become increasingly more so when she loses her job. Bumping into old flame and successful Doctor Mike (Lloyd Owen) could seem like a meal ticket but all Maggie wants is him to give her a job so she can survive. After being told there is no work for her she manages her blag herself an invite to Mike’s lavish birthday party where she is sure she will find someone to employ her. The night before the party she gets a phone call saying Mike’s daughter is ill and the party is cancelled but Maggie isn’t fooled by his obvious change of heart about having someone of her nature there. She decides to crash the party and (if need be) tell an elaborate story (thought up by her friend Jean, played by Lorraine Ashbourne) that her daughter is actually his, from a summer fling they had in school. Will Maggie find someone to give her a job at the party or will she have to pull out her wild card? Surely there are good people in the world that will help her out.
The cast of six make this show comedy genius. Crazy old landlady Dottie (played by Susan Brown) and Mikes wife Kate (played by Angel Coulby) help to add layers to the story. A brilliant script by David Lindsay-Abaire, that makes you feel like you are watching a film, had me on the edge of my seat until the very last second. At the interval I thought I could predict how the second half would pan out but there were twists and turns (and even flying rabbits) that even I couldn’t predict.
The set (designed by Hildegard Bechtler) is glorious, rotating between the outside of the dollar store, Maggies kitchen, the bingo hall and Mikes living room. The New York accents are particularly impressive, especially by Imelda who we know to be the quintessentially British lady.
The faultless Good People is playing at the Noël Coward Theatre, for a ten week run, following a transfer from Hampstead Theatre. An incredibly moving and hilarious play that must be seen by everyone.
Reviewed by West End Wilma