‘Good People’ often find few alternatives in times of trouble


By Diana Saenger

What makes someone a good person?

That’s the question explored in “Good People,” by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lindsay-Abaire, having its San Diego premiere at The Old Globe through Oct. 28.

The play also examines the lengths some people go to just to survive in hard times, and the social and economic diversity that often divides a nation.

When the curtain rises, we meet Margie Walsh (Eva Kaminsky), a single mother trying to raise a mentally handicapped daughter. Margie resorts to unusual solutions when seeking help. Actor Kaminsky had no problem getting into her persona.

“Each time I work on a new character, I want to know what makes them tick … what’s under their skin,” Kaminsky said. “Margie lives in Boston, is a high-school dropout and has lost her job at the dollar store. She’s left with few alternatives and just wants to find a job to make enough money so she and her daughter can survive.”

Although a diehard Boston “Southie,” Margie has no other family to rely on, so she contacts her high school boyfriend Mike (R. Ward Duffy), who has left town and is doing fine as a doctor.

“‘Good People’ tells two sides of a story incredibly well, and you usually don’t find that,” Kaminsky said. “It goes back and forth and humanizes everyone. You see both sides of Margie, and I love that she has good things and bad things about her.

“It’s really interesting to play a fully flushed-out character like this in a story that is very relevant to what a lot of people are going through today.”

Paul Mullins directs “Good People.” Kaminsky said she finds him collaborative, and one of the funniest and smartest directors she’s worked with. “He’s really good at getting to what’s really happening in a scene, and with panache and joy,” she said.

In addition to surviving by playing Bingo at the local church, Margie has talkfests to commiserate with her landlord Dottie (Robin Pearson Rose) and girlfriend Jean (Carol Halstead). But Margie often fails to take their advice.

“Still, she’s a fighter, even when things don’t go as planned with Mike,” Kaminsky said. “There’s humor in this script, so much so I was constantly laughing in rehearsals. But there are also some dark things in the story, which is the best kind of the play for me.”