Kenneth Lonergan’s Lobby Hero plays in Goodman’s Owen Theatre

Kenneth Lonergan’s Lobby Hero plays in Goodman’s Owen Theatre

By Edith McCauley, Theater Critic

The more intimate and flexible space of Goodman’s Owen Theatre accommodates its opening production well. Lobby Hero, set in a Manhattan apartment complex, is the story of four people in uniform. The security guard, Lance S. Baker, who plays “Jeff”, marks time while deciding what he wants to be when he grows up. His supervisor, “William”, played by Rolando Boyce, finds Jeff’s sense of humor puzzling and in sharp contrast to his own dedication to his job. The police officers, whose equipment include weapons, are Scott Cummins as “Bill” and Julie Granata as “Dawn.” Bill with his many years of experience, indoctrinates the female rookie. Loyalty is everything and includes protecting your partner in situations that have illegal implications.

Longergan’s Lobby Hero has achieved recognition and success in many venues, playing in Playwrights Horizon and the John Houseman theaters in New York and currently running with another Lonergan play, This Is Our Youth in London’s West End. Directed by Robert Falls, the work consists of long conversations in a limited space. The dynamics of interaction between the characters depend on occurrences taking place outside the lobby. Dawn’s encounter with a drunk resulting in serious injury to the perpetrator, Bill’s assignations in 22 J with a hooker, and William’s defense of his brother implicated in a robbery-murder, drive the story line, but fall short in enhancing the drama.

The Owen adapts well to a variety of works. Last year’s Garden, set in rural England, incorporated stone stairways, ponds, and lush flowers. The audience, which sits on three levels, focused on the play and there were no blockages at any point. Linda Buchanan’s scenic design for Lobby Hero with soaring pillars, towering glass windows, and a huge chandelier dominates the production.

Replicating the buildings of the city, with ramp-like structures, I really wanted to discover just how she achieved such a striking effect. Michelle Habeck’s lighting, which draws the audience’s attention to the rear of the stage and spotlights the action, gave the play much-needed emphasis.

The Goodman, a not-for-profit institution, has acquired both private and corporate support, enabling it to stage productions with the best professional actors and innovative and creative designers.

The loyalty of its audiences remains high. Lobby Hero runs through Nov. 24, 2002.

The Goodman complex is at 170 N. Dearborn with parking available across the street. When arranging for tickets, be sure to ask for documentation for a reduced parking fee. Phone 312-443-5151 or fax 312-443-3821.

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