Redtwist Theatre presents
Running Time: Approximately two hours with a ten minute intermission
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
Obstruction of justice is the barrier between what you know to be true and what you want to be true. Who enforces doing the right thing anymore? Its security guards verses police officers in a showdown of championing the truth. Redtwist Theatre presents LOBBY HERO. From the front desk of a Manhattan high-rise, the doorman observes nighttime rituals enforcing safety. His boss secures the building. The police secure the streets. Watching from the parameter, the doorman tries to interject himself into their rounds for light-hearted banter. The routine becomes unhinged when a heinous crime occurs. Although the murder occurs outside their jurisdiction, each uses details of the case for personal gain. LOBBY HERO is a surreal inside-out contemplation on the power of an alibi.
Scenic designer Andrew Jessop has renovated the Redtwist vestibule into a condominium lobby. Although accurately imagined with peach walls, crowned molding and elevator dings, that’s not the truly impressive part. Under the direction of Keira Fromm, the stage extends out of the storefront theatre onto Bryn Mawr. Fromm stages action on the outside of the theatre. The interacting characters can be seen outside and heard inside. When a character exits the lobby, they exit the building and go outside. The unique experience blurs the lines between reality and theatrical. Regular Edgewater folks are in the show by just strolling on the sidewalk. At one point, out of the corner of my eye, I see a woman cross the street and head for the lobby door. I think it’s a mistake but it’s really an actor. Amazing! Besides mesmerizing the audience with staging choices, Fromm also directs a solid ensemble. In the lead, Andrew Jessop (Jeff) is the easy-going, non-judgmental doorman. Jessop delivers some hilarious moments with matter of fact statements that provoke strong reactions from other characters. Michael Pogue (William) has the poignant transformation plummeting from integrity to dishonor. Pogue’s face and manner resonates a range of emotional disturbances. Eric Hoffman (Bill) is the stereotyped cop abusing his authority with rookies and civilians. Maura Kidwell (Dawn) is the newbie cop working a variety of angles to keep her job. Watching Hoffman and Kidwell banter on the sidewalk is so genuine, the show could be deterring crime without even trying.
Playwright Kenneth Lonergan first produced LOBBY HERO in 2001. A lot can happen in ten years for the plausibility of a plot point. For this generation of “CSI” aficionados, DNA overrules any ironclad alibi. In today’s cynical world, ‘a man’s word’ is not only less powerful, it’s almost comical. ‘I didn’t kill her.’ ‘I didn’t mean to beat him up.’ ‘I didn’t sleep with her.’ No matter the ‘I didn’t…’ moment, the contemporary stopper is a confident ‘I don’t believe you.’ Lonergan anchors his plot with a lovely, but old-fashion, notion that there is power in verbal conviction. Despite that speed bump, LOBBY HERO intrigues with authentic staged realism. It’s less about the story and more about unforgettable staging. LOBBY HERO is a virtual reality experience on the night shift. Go sit in the lobby and be an observer. Or actualize your dream to be on stage by strolling down Bryn Mawr!
A former high-rise resident, MESD describes her connection to the show with ‘waiting in lobby…still!’
Production photography courtesy of Chris Brown and Jan Ellen Graves.