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Theater review: 'Lobby Hero' at Pacific Stages

February 18, 2010 |  7:00 pm

Lobbyhero Kenneth Lonergan’s very fine, very funny “Lobby Hero,” which had its off-Broadway premiere in the spring of 2001, explores the moral relativism of a group of blue-collar New Yorkers.

Lonergan’s modestly scaled and pithy four-person play offers a scathingly amusing look at the depths to which ordinary people will descend in their frantic quest for self-justification.

Jeff (Edward Tournier), a lobby guard at a Manhattan high-rise, is a chatty loser who takes nothing very seriously. Not so Jeff’s martinet boss, William (Kareem Ferguson), a security “captain” with rigid ethical standards.  When William bends his principles to give his criminal brother an alibi, Jeff, in turn, betrays William’s confidence to Dawn (Dana Lynn Bennett), a rookie police officer who then betrays Jeff’s confidence to get back at her highly decorated partner/lover, Bill (Nick Mennell), whose behavior constitutes one long string of duplicity and betrayal.

There are no real heroes here, and no true villains either, just nimble moral equivocators who tap-dance their way through the ever-shifting rationales of Lonergan’s keenly observed social satire.

Unfortunately, in his staging at Pacific Stages  – the first full-scale production in this new El Segundo venue – director Robert Bailey short-changes his material, allowing his cast to turn in serviceable yet stiff portrayals that lack crucial subtext.  The exception is Mennell, who captures the bluff narcissism of his character, a double-dealing scoundrel who sincerely believes himself to be the nicest guy he knows.

– F. Kathleen Foley

“Lobby Hero,” Pacific Stages, 2041 Rosecrans Ave. #170, El Segundo.  8 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 5 p.m. Sundays.  Ends March 21.  $34.99.  (310) 868-2631. www.pacificstages.org.  Running time:  2 hours.

Photo: Edward Tournier, Kareem Ferguson, Nick Mennell and Dana Lynn Bennett. Credit: Steven Moses

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