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FSU/Asolo Conservatory’s “Lobby Hero”

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  The FSU/Asolo Conservatory’s Lobby Hero. Kenneth Lonergan’s Lobby Hero (now onstage at the Cook Theatre in an FSU/Asolo Conservatory production) opens with a conversation between Jeff (Brendan Ragan), a security guard at an apartment building in Manhattan, and his boss, William (Christopher Williams)—a conversation in which our first impression is that Jeff is a […]

January 5, 2012


 

The FSU/Asolo Conservatory’s Lobby Hero.

Kenneth Lonergan’s Lobby Hero (now onstage at the Cook Theatre in an FSU/Asolo Conservatory production) opens with a conversation between Jeff (Brendan Ragan), a security guard at an apartment building in Manhattan, and his boss, William (Christopher Williams)—a conversation in which our first impression is that Jeff is a likable enough slacker, for whom we might not have high hopes, and William a bit of a tightass, a stickler with a rigid code and ambitions to move up in the world. Jeff, it seems, can’t do anything right.

But despite his checkered background—dismissal from the Navy, a debt owed to his brother—Jeff does have some fumbling sense of morality. It’s a sense that is sorely tested when William confides in him about a crime that may or may not involve his brother, and when Jeff himself is attracted to a rookie female cop (Brittany Proia) with conflicting loyalties of her own, thanks to a partner (Jacob Cooper) whose behavior threatens to damage her both personally and professionally.

Despite all the tension implied, most of the action takes place offstage, not in the lobby where Jeff works, or loafs (in a convincing design by Rick Cannon). It’s a tribute to Lonergan’s skills with pacing and dialogue that we get drawn into the dilemmas the characters face based solely on their conversations with one another; another playwright might have chosen to show us more of what sparks their conflicts, but Lonergan and director Brendon Foster keep things tightly focused here.

The four cast members, second-year Conservatory students, form a strong unit, with especially nice work by Ragan. His body language, his posture, and his reactions are just right for someone like Jeff, who frequently says or does the wrong thing but is by no means dumb; he just hasn’t found himself yet, and the need to do so is becoming urgent. Proia likewise has the right physical attitude (and New York accent), with a mix of bravado and vulnerability as a female in what’s still mostly a man’s world. The mix of comedy and drama in Lobby Hero is proficient—even if the play does feel a little protracted at times.

Lobby Hero continues through Jan. 22; for tickets call 351-8000 or go to asolorep.org.