Friday, 12 June 2009

Lobby Hero , June 12, 2009 ****1/2

 Lobby Hero 
by Kenneth Lonergan, Red Stitch Actors Theatre
 Red Stitch Theatre, Chapel St, St. Kilda, June 12 to  July 11, 2009
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: ****1/2

There is something compelling and profoundly moving about Kenneth Lonergan’s Lobby Hero. Four ordinary people struggle to live according to their own moral code. How do we decide what is right and wrong, how to serve ourselves while not damaging others, or how to make the best of what we are given?

The Oscar winning screenwriter sets his play over several nights in the claustrophobic lobby of an American city apartment block. Jeff (Tim Potter), the night shift security guard, spends his time reading and waiting for his mentor and boss, William (Christopher Kirby), to visit on his rounds. Bill, (Daniel Frederiksen) a successful city street cop, and his rookie partner, Dawn (Eryn-Jean Norvill), drop by each night.

Lonergan’s script is beautifully crafted, with an impeccably structured narrative and sensitive, funny and vividly observed dialogue. Each character springs to life fully drawn, complete with complexities, contradictions and mistakes.

Denis Moore’s production is delicately wrought, balancing comedy with drama, and creating deceptively simple rhythms in both the story and characters. Shaun Gurton’s design provides two stark spaces: the cold, grey, apartment lobby and a cage-like exterior doorway.

Potter is on stage almost the entire two hours and he is riveting, capturing the vulnerable boyishness of Jeff, his playful humour and his moral dilemma when faced with telling the truth about his friend’s lie. Potter has an impish quality but balances this with Jeff’s soul-searching and grappling with right and wrong.

As William, the fine, upstanding citizen who takes seriously his role of Security Captain, Kirby is dignified and captivating. His entire physicality embodies the anguish that William experiences as he faces his demons and tries to protect his family.

Frederiksen as the hero-cop, Bill, has the brittle quality of a grimy, jaded, street cop accustomed to getting his own way. He is smarmy, dangerous and fiercely loyal to his friends and colleagues – when they play his game.

Norvill captures the girlishness and dogged ambition of the young officer, Dawn. She is desperate to be a good cop and to please her partner, She is faced with the decision to save her own skin or hurt others, and who can tell whether her actions were on the side of the angels?

Nothing is simple in this life that is riddled with moral choices – not even in the lives of simple people.

By Kate Herbert

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