A Return to Southie, by Way of Broadway
By CHARLES McGRATH
THE NEW YORK TIMES
BOSTON – THE playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, who won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for “Rabbit Hole,” grew up in South Boston — Southie, as it’s known. Southie, the setting of his much anticipated Broadway follow-up, “Good People,” is a neighborhood of narrow streets and small houses jammed together on a peninsula jutting into Boston Harbor and cut off from downtown by an old shipping channel. Even to some Bostonians, growing up here is a little like growing up on the moon. They know the place mostly from gritty movies set there, like “Good Will Hunting” and “The Departed.”
Until fairly recently, when gentrifiers began slipping in, the neighborhood was Irish, Catholic and working class, and famously proud, insular, stubborn and independent. Southie was the home of the mobster Whitey Bulger, a local hero to many. In the mid-’70s it was a bastion of anti-busing sentiment — not, many residents insisted, because people in Southie had anything against blacks but because they didn’t care for outsiders, period. And the place has always been known for the local brand of dark humor, which thrives on misery and adversity.
While not autobiographical, “Good People” is the first of Mr. Lindsay-Abaire’s plays to explore the world he came from, and it features a character who, like him, moves away and becomes a success. Now 41, he lives in the Ditmas Park section of Brooklyn with his wife and two children. But on a bitterly cold day a couple of weeks ago, when the shipping channel was nearly frozen solid and residents had staked out their carefully shoveled parking spots with traffic cones and lawn chairs, he dropped by the old neighborhood for the first time in a while, to wander around and to talk about the play, which stars Frances McDormand, Tate Donovan and Estelle Parsons. It begins previews on Tuesday at the Friedman Theater…