Known for his strong yet nuanced female characters, Margaret in David Lindsay-Abaire's Good People is no exception. Transferring from the Hampstead Theatre (which is currently on a roll with one smash hit after another) to the Noel Coward Theatre for a very limited run.
Portrayed by Imelda Staunton, Margaret is a working class, single mother from the tough streets of Boston. After losing yet another low-wage job, she scrambles to find other ways to provide for her disabled adult daughter.
So when she heard that her old flame, Mike (Lloyd Owen), who has made good is in town, she decides to go and meet up with him. Unfortunately, instead of a solution, their meeting has brought about more problems for Margaret than she originally bargained for.
This study in fate, class and the surprising effects of circumstance, under the direction of Jonathan Kent and an exceptionally talented cast is a must-see.
Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph: One of the pleasures of my job is turning up to a play with no great hopes and discovering that you are watching an absolute cracker. The American dramatist David Lindsay-Abaire is best known in this country for writing the book and lyrics for Shrek the Musical, an enjoyable show to be sure, but not exactly Stephen Sondheim. In contrast this new piece is tough, genuinely funny and often deeply moving.
Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard: We’ve only just got to the end of this year’s lengthy theatre awards season, but if there’s already one shoo-in for all the prizes next time round, it’s surely Imelda Staunton. In David Lindsay-Abaire’s sharp, bitterly funny examination of class and social mobility in America, Staunton effervesces as a down-on-her-luck single mother from the wrong side of the tracks in South Boston. The show was a recent sell-out hit at the high-flying Hampstead Theatre and now takes up a deserved slot in the West End.
Neil Norman, Express: Like a latter-day Arthur Miller, Lindsay-Abaire lays bare the entrails of the American Dream in a sharply defined context. Although set in his old neighbourhood of South Boston it has a universality that would affect anyone.
Abrasive, dark and viciously funny it is illustrative of the excellent health currently enjoyed by American social drama.
Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out: Imelda Staunton is unmitigatedly wonderful as Margaret, a messy, motormouthed Bostonian single mother who knocks back second chances like bottles of Sam Adams.