L. Trey Wilson wanted to write a play where, in every scene, someone told a lie - all sorts of lies. Lies of deceit, lies of omission, white lies, bold-faced lies, lies of convenience, lies of support, etc. The result, Good People, is a riveting account of a marriage, a friendship, and a close familial relationship gone terribly wrong. But were they ever really good to begin with?
Right from the start, Wilson grabs attention with a device that at first seems like a timeworn gimmick: the opening scene is played over and over again at periodic intervals, each time with a slightly different emphasis. But as Wilson keeps revisiting that first scene, we see just where everything began to fall apart, the seeds of eventual destruction evident from the very beginning, and possibly before. In the ever-shifting panoply of interpersonal relationships, the one constant is that these people, however heinous their behavior toward each other, are basically likable, but flawed human beings. Normal people. Good people.
Wilson's dialogue crackles with conversational flair, and under John Steber's cool, crisp direction, Rochelle Hogue, Melissa Maxwell, E. Phillip McGlaston, Brian Spivey all gave superlative performances, sifting through the emotional wreckage of their lives with almost unbearable honesty, pain, and humanity. The production also looked and sounded great, Meganne George's starkly contemporary production design nicely complemented by Amy C. Harper's rich lighting, and all was nicely underscored by a terrific sound design that combined well-chosen music and effects with professional elan. (Consultant: Robert Shaffron.)
Sophisticated, perhaps a tad manipulative, but ultimately breathtaking, Good People has a way of sneaking up and smacking hard with its brutally honest outlook on humanity. For a work-in-progress, the progress already made is considerable.
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Copyright 2001 Doug DeVita