Review by Blair Godshall of “When We Get Good Again”: Miami University Theatre
The University of Miami (Ohio) Theater Department opens their season with a workshop production of “When We Get Good Again.” This new play, by James McLindon, recently won Playhouse on the Square’s (Memphis) New Works @ The Works competition and will receive its world premiere next year in January.
Poor, hard working and brilliant college student Tracy (junior Jamie Chmielewski) needs straight A’s to get into a top law school within 3 years to save money and become a lawyer so she can pay down her college debt. Under the tutelage of Perry (Senior Tanner McCormick), a self described “academic” who conducts all business in a coffee shop (where the entire play takes place) Tracy manages to rationalize her job writing term papers for other wealthy students, including Roy (senior Jesse Dever), a hockey player satisfied with coasting through college to simply get a piece of paper and Nadiya (sophomore Jordan Myers), an equally brilliant Ukrainian student who hasn’t yet mastered English. Personal conflict ensues as the characters question: What is truly good? Is it good to not get caught? Are they good enough academically to get by on their own? What does a good person look like? When Tracy is asked the question “Can YOU break the rules as long as you’re serving a greater good?” both the characters and those viewing the play are forced to ask themselves the same question.
Director Lewis Magruder’s directing never once took away from McLindon’s text and worked well to heighten the stakes of the characters. It’s clear he took a great deal of time working with the cast to give each character a heart and soul, wants and desires, a body and mind. Todd Stuart’s simple and informative scenic design puts the audience right in their favorite coffee shop and the small details give the audience a lot of information within the cozy space. The cast plays well together and I applaud them for finding the human qualities in their characters. It’s easy to find something relevant and relatable from each of them. I highly suggest seeing this play because I have a feeling it will soon become a mainstream production that many will want to produce. “When We Get Good Again” runs Oct 2-6 in Studio 88 at Miami University. tickets are available at http://miamioh.edu/cca/academics/departments/theatre/production-season/index.html.