No one plays prickly and contentious like Frances McDormand. It doesn’t matter if she’s the mother in “Almost Famous” who declares that “Rock stars have kidnapped my son” or Charlize Theron’s testy buddy in “North Country.” Even in “Fargo” she was sweetly difficult as the pregnant sheriff who plagues William H. Macy. As Margaret Walsh, in the Manhattan Theater Club’s “Good People.” the South Boston single mother with a grown, retarded daughter (re-ta-ded is a great word to say in a tough Boston accent) she’s like a bowling ball set to knock down pins.
And that’s what she does on stage at the Samuel G. Friedman Theater, rolling right over her friends, her boss, an ex boyfriend, and his young wife. Even so, Margaret gets as good as she gives, making everyone around her up their game– and that includes Tate Donovan, Estelle Parsons, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Becky Ann Baker, and Patrick Carroll.
David Lindsay Abaire wrote this very funny, smooth play set — like “The Town,” “The Fighter.” and almost everything out there right now in Boston with strong flavored accents. He also wrote “Rabbit Hole,” which won Cynthia Nixon a Tony and Nicole Kidman an Oscar nomination. No kidding he’s done it again. The “Rabbit Hole” movie director John Cameron Mitchell was in the opening night audience probably thinking the same thing, along with McDormand’s husband, director Joel Coen, plus Tony Roberts, John Slattery and Talia Balsam, Amy Ryan, Jan Maxwell, Willem Dafoe, Tyne Daly, and Bobby Cannavale, who — at the BB King’s after party– showed off the stitches in his head from “a work related incident” preparing for “The Motherf—er With the Hat” on Broadway with Chris Rock. No, it wasn’t “Spider Man”!
Tony nominations? Yes, indeed, they’ll be coming, especially for John Lee Beatty’s turntable set. Oscar season is over, Tony season starts. Let the games begin!