That’s Good Theater!
by Greg Morell
As artscope magazine makes its 10th anniversary victory lap, keeping its unique eye on the New England arts scene, I thought it prime time to congratulate and capsule a small arts organization that has made an impressive and substantial impact on the Portland, Maine art scene. My accolades go to Portland’s Good Theater, consistently producing some of the city’s finest drama from its modest headquarters.
Good Theater is located in the gentrified historic neighborhood of Munjoy Hill. Their play space of 106 fixed proscenium seats is housed it what was a former church parish house. It is an intimate space of relaxed charm that huddles audiences in a bleacher that looks down upon a wide stage begging for height.
Formally known as the Saint Lawrence Arts Center, the development of the theater space and the sinful destruction of its now non-existent landmark sanctuary is a tale of the best of intentions betrayed by building codes, poor judgment and financial waste.
However, within the restrictive parameters of their 1897 parish house theater, Good Theater thrives. Brian P. Allen and Steve Underwood are the devoted duo whose steadfast dedication and hard work have been the lifeblood of the organization and the engine of artistic excellence.
When Good Theater mounts a challenging contemporary drama, audience expectation is high. In recent history, the petite playhouse on Munjoy Hill has thrilled audiences with two of the best dramas seen in the regional area, “August: Osage County” and “Clybourne Park.”
They have also delved into full-scale productions of brand-new plays. Playwright Rob Urbinati has a special relationship with the theater. They have produced his “Death By Design” and most recently, in their current season, they threw caution to the wind and mounted a world premiere of “Mama’s Boy,” his exposé of the infamous, mentally and emotionally aberrant assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, and his maniacal, psychologically twisted mother.