Good People explores the culture of underclass life in the historically Irish immigrant neighborhood South Boston, Southie- sometimes to the point of caricature. From the dollar store to the bingo hall, the string of dead end jobs, the son who returned from the Iraq with half his face blown off, the pregnant mother caught shoplifting a thanksgiving turkey- life in Southie is presented as a litany of underclass suffering. And Margie (played with impeccable timing by Imelda Staunton), fired from the dollar store in the first scene due to the inability to secure reliable care for her disabled adult daughter, has had more than her fair share.
The title of the play is used several times to refer to Mikey, the Southie boy who has managed to achieve the middle class dream of a house in Chestnut Hill with several trees in the yard and a beautiful young (African American) wife. This house is where the second half of the play takes place, the scene of a sometimes explosive conversation between three people.
The play is mostly what you hope for: some great lines, some big ideas about social class (including an abbreviated attempt to address racism). However, I'm left with the feeling that the script plays it too safe. None of the characters are changed by the end. Mikey is simply a melodramatically selfish baddie while Margie shuffles back to Southie with a heart of gold and a bleak future.