Frances McDormand woke up Friday to rapturous reviews for her work in the new David Lindsay-Abaire play “Good People.” Lindsay-Abaire won the Pultizer four years ago for “Rabbit Hole,” which focused on a crisis in a middle-class marriage. In “Good People,” he explores the world of working-class Boston and McDormand is the heroine, a woman looking to escape her humdrum existence.
The Best Actress Oscar winner (“Fargo,” 1996) should reap a Tony Awards bid when those nominations are announced in May. The last time Frances McDormand appeared on Broadway was three years ago in a lacklustre production of Clifford Odet’s “The Country Girl.” As the stalwart wife of an alcoholic actor — a role that won Grace Kelly the Oscar in 1954 — McDormand was miscast as was Morgan Freeman as her hard-drinking husband.
But with this role McDormand has found a winner. Ben Brantley of the New York Times raved: “This central paradox in Margie’s character — what might be described as a feisty defeatism — is beautifully conveyed by Ms. McDormand. In dealing with others, Margie is combative, sly, nasty and tricky. But in the very same breath she is doubtful, reluctant and self-sabotagingly kind.”
Elysa Gardner of USA Today thought the actress, “redeems herself with a blazingly authentic performance. Her Margie is an earthy survivor with a gallows wit, achingly decent but clearly not above bitterness and bad decisions.” And Jennifer Farrar of the AP said, “McDormand makes her blunt, sharp-tongued character sympathetic, infusing Margie’s defensive behavior and terse, sarcastic speech with toughness, honesty and stubborn pride.