When was the last time a show stayed with you outside the theater, past the parking lot and well into the following day?
Kenneth Lonergan’s “Lobby Hero” is one of those invaluable shows that have the potential to start big arguments, great conversations, and a nagging inner voice – would I have done it that way?
“Lobby Hero,” which is currently running on Geva’s Nextstage, draws us into the lives of four characters who, by the play’s end, have resolved their thorny personal conflicts in different ways.
It’s a familiar recipe – characters with problems who interact and wind up becoming part of one another’s stories.
As his title character, Lonergan gives us Jeff – security officer and laid-back lord of the lobby, who watches over the comings and goings of a high-rise in Manhattan.
His kind but acutely serious boss, William, shares the night shift with him. Rookie cop Dawn catches Jeff’s eye when she stops by the building with Bill, her well-respected senior partner and current flame.
While it may seem like a flimsy construct at first, the ties that bind the characters by the show’s end make it far from typical and thoroughly entertaining.
Jeff is Lonergan’s back-talking, lighthearted, greasy-haired doorman. Hard on his luck, he has been renting a room from his brother and wants nothing more than to be independent – he spends time apartment-hunting during the day.
Lucas Papaelias, who plays Jeff, made the audience laugh out loud more than once with his wisecracks.
Papaelias capitalized on Lonergan’s witty dialogues to milk the role’s silliness, making it all the more dramatic when Jeff came to his own crossroads at the end of the play.
Rodney Hicks sensitively dealt with race issues and familial responsibility while at his own crossroads, creating a character in William that easily exacted both empathy and sympathy.
William, Jeff’s “captain,” shares his personal dilemma with Jeff after some prodding.
His brother has been accused of committing an atrocious crime, and dishonestly listed William as his only alibi.
Jeff listens to William’s story, aghast, and offers suggestions as William weighs his options – staying true to his rock-solid morals or saving an older brother who “never had a chance.”
Morgan Davis’s character, Dawn, is also disadvantaged, as a brand-new “lady cop” on the streets of New York City.
Davis had the spark necessary to pull off the part of this hard-working woman with a chip on her shoulder the size of the Empire State Building. Coleman Zeigen was the lying sleaze Bill’s part required.
The duo, tangled in a web of Bill’s lies, Dawn’s low status in the police force, and a pending lawsuit, never once came off as a cookie-cutter police-movie pair. Their spicy interchanges and Lonergan’s plot twists kept viewers guessing.
Skip Greer directs “Lobby Hero,” which flows like a good conversation, on Geva’s Nextstage.
Lonergan was recently up for an Academy Award for his screenwriting in “Gangs of New York” and is generally highly acclaimed as a playwright/screenwriter/director.
“Lobby Hero” will be performed on Geva’s Nextstage through April 6. Tickets, which start at $12, make “Lobby Hero” affordable even to the student populace. For more information, visit Geva’s Web site at http://www.gevatheatre.org.
Weiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.