Us And Them And the Money That Separates
Ensemble Theatre | Sydney
directed by Mark Kilmurry
When a baby is born, we want to think that the world is their oyster, and where they are today will have little bearing on where they may end up many years after. In David Lindsay-Abaire’s Good People, we meet two people with roots in the same rough part of town but whose lives have taken drastically different turns over time. One is enjoying the fruits of a meteoric rise up the socio-economic ladder, while the other finds herself stagnated in poverty. It is a thoughtful play about opportunity and privilege, with the most basic of narratives. Yet its sharp-witted dialogue is expertly crafted not only to stimulate our minds but also to deliver some very big and clever laughs.
Tara Morice leads a formidable cast in a production that will be remembered for its outstanding quality of acting. Morice’s humour is acerbic but subtle, much like her character Margaret’s resentment. Bitterness is not her predominant feature, nonetheless it emerges periodically to overtake her easy exterior and everyone is caught off guard. The actor never makes a big deal of her punchlines, but the dryness of her delivery is somehow no inhibition to the power of her comedy. Morice is absolutely hilarious on stage, yet able to communicate all of Margaret’s complexities with thorough clarity. Hers is not a life that every bourgeois theatregoer is familiar with, her performance though illustrates each detail and essence so that we achieve a level of understanding that feels exhaustive and genuine. Christopher Stollery’s skills are on par, and the combination of the two is pure theatrical gold. Stollery’s captivating performance brings an electrifying playfulness keeping us engrossed and alert, while portraying his character Mike with an unyielding sincerity that prevents him from turning caricature. In the role of Kate is Zindzi Okenyo who presents surprising nuance for a woman determined not to reveal much. The actor’s flair for comedy is showcased beautifully, and her warm presence brings a valuable dignity to her part in the story.
Direction by the company's Artistic Director Mark Kilmurry and design by Tobhiyah Stone Feller are faithful to the spirit of the work providing an honest voice to the underclass being represented in Good People. Our protagonist is neither deified nor demonized, so we are able to recognise her humanity and
photo | ©Clare Hawley