Patrick Carroll loves his job. But unlike most folks so enamored with their profession, he knows it isn't going to last. Barring any miraculous circumstances, Carroll's run in David Lindsay-Abaire's Good People will come to an end on May 8, when the play wraps its two-month stint at the Friedman Theatre in New York.
And while there will be work for Carroll after Good People, the unabashed enthusiasm he uses when talking about the project suggests that he knows this is a once-in-a-lifetime-type gig. "When you're an actor and you work your butt off every day and something you feel real passionate about like this comes along, you can only feel lucky to be a part of it," says Carroll during a recent phone interview. "It's the best feeling in the world, and this is truly one of those opportunities."
The enthusiasm is understandable. Not only does the 28-year-old Boston native have the opportunity to grace the same stage as Academy Award winner Frances McDormand and the legendary Estelle Parsons, but Good People also happens to be set in South Boston.
"Since Boston has become this fertile ground for production and film and storytelling, I've wanted to be part of a project set in Boston," says Carroll, who plays Stevie, the boss of McDormand's protagonist character, Margie Walsh. The opening scene finds Stevie firing Margie from her job for excessive tardiness, unfurling a wave of despair that leaves her on the ropes. It is in this wake that Margie hatches her escape: an attempt to reclaim an ex-lover (Tate Donovan) who has gone on to bigger and better things as a doctor.
Southie's progression to Broadway seems only fitting. Combine the relative grimness of recent films set in the neighborhood with the enclave's rock-solid sense of community, and you're afforded an ideal platform for distinct theatrical flourishes.
And while much of the production's grit can be attributed to the set design of John Lee Beatty (a bingo hall and a West Broadway dollar store are two primary pieces), it's the nuances of Lindsay-Abaire's script that really drives it home, notably the surrogate-mother bond between Margie and Stevie, and Donovan's role as "the one" who got out. Both relationships contribute to the bleak communal theme.
"David is from South Boston. He loves these characters, he loves the neighborhood, and I think it'd be impossible for him to be anything but fair," says Carroll. "In this case, he doesn't pull any punches in showing us the harsher side and harsher realities."