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Review: Characters face moral dilemmas in crackling good play

Review: Characters face moral dilemmas in crackling good play

A fast-paced, technically perfect production at theREP
Review: Characters face moral dilemmas in crackling good play
Mark W. Soucy as Bill in Capital Repertory Theatre's “Lobby Hero.”
Photographer: photo provided

Jeff (Kenny Toll) is a security guard during the graveyard shift in the lobby of a NYC apartment house. 

But he’s not so secure. 

Neither are the other three characters who come in and out of the lobby. Though Dawn (Sarah Baskin) and Bill (Mark W. Soucy) are members of the police force, and William (Jonathan Louis Dent) is Jeff’s supervisor, wearing a uniform of authority doesn’t guard against uncertainty about who you really are.

With crackling good dialogue by playwright Kenneth Lonergan and a fast-paced, technically perfect production under the direction of Megan Sandberg-Zakian, the moral dilemmas these four face have us wondering about their choices and ours, were we in their places. “Lobby Hero” is an absorbing (and occasionally quite funny) evening in the theater.

In the shadow of a deceased father who was a tough Navy man — and tough to live with — Jeff is a piece of flotsam and jetsam, bunking with his brother’s family but always planning to get up and out on his own, if only… if only he had a break and a bit more money. Jeff basically responds to life, asking questions and occasionally creating mischief for sheer entertainment.

William, his boss, is an African American who has risen to the top of the security guard organization. He’s a straight arrow, someone eager to do the right thing and convinced that he always can.

Bill is a cop from the old school. Allegiance to the brotherhood of the men in blue is paramount because you never know when you might need their support, in personal or professional matters.

On the force for just three months, Dawn, who is Bill’s beat partner, assesses her job from the standpoint of a newcomer and a female. None of it is easy, and Baskin does a superb job showing us Dawn’s cocky body language that is, poignantly, undercut by the often startled look in her eyes.

Cristina Todesco’s handsome single set design includes a decorative circle on the lobby floor, like a bull ring, where these four parry and charge over ethical issues involving murder, sexual harassment, marital fidelity, lying, and professional responsibility.

And if this is a bull ring, there’s bound to be some bull**** flying around. Listen for it.

Soucy’s Bill is a guy who seems to have made peace with his decisions about life, but he has miscalculated because life presents new challenges every day. Soucy perfectly captures Bill’s swagger and fierce determination to be in control.

Jeff is a conundrum, alternately amused by what happens on his night shift, frustrated by what isn’t happening in his life, lazy, probing, sympathetic, and yet somewhat — well, dangerous. Toll works beautifully in the cracks of this character.

Dent’s William is a man with the most at stake. Having risen in the ranks of a respectable job, William is proud — notice his physical stance and speech — but we know what pride goeth before. His moral dilemma turns out to be a commentary on race, class, and family. Fine work by Dent.

Near the end of the second act, Jeff says, “Sometimes I think I was worn out the minute I was born.” Ah, life is not for the faint of heart. It requires energy and vigilance, something these four characters discover on the graveyard shift.

‘Lobby Hero’

WHERE: Capital Repertory Theatre, 111 N. Pearl St., Albany
WHEN: Through Oct. 20
HOW MUCH:  $57-$22
MORE INFO:  518.445.7469, or capitalrep.org

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