‘Lobby Hero’: A Play for Every New Yorker


Broadway show 'Lobby Hero' plays distinctive New Yorkers caught in a war of worlds. (Courtesy of Facebook)

By Shelby Daniel

There have been plenty of shows about unique characters in New York trying to find themselves, which is why the basic idea of “Lobby Hero” made me slightly hesitant to venture to see the talked-about show at the Helen Hayes Theater.

“Lobby Hero” boasts a small four- -person company. Michael Cera, Chris Evans, Brian Tyree Henry and Bel Powley play distinctly different New Yorkers caught in a war of words with one another while they constantly self-sabotage for the duration of the show.

The show takes place entirely in one setting: the lobby of a residential building in New York City in 1999. The set itself, despite remaining the same throughout the show, rotates on a moving platform, offering the audience a different perspective of the lobby from scene to scene.

The pivotal character, onstage the entire time, is Jeff (Cera), a night-shift security guard in the building. Jeff is an endearingly awkward blabbermouth who is never able to find a filter for his thoughts. He spends a majority of time in the show explaining to other characters why he has not quite “made it” yet. After being kicked out of the Navy, he was left hopeless and in debt in the city; the security guard position was his saving grace. Jeff’s boss William (Henry) is a man of integrity whom Jeff admires for his honesty and his ability to provide for others. This is all called into question when William’s brother is arrested for a murder, forcing William to evaluate his sense of duty for himself and his family.

Two police officers, Bill (Evans) and Dawn (Powley) adhere to the push and pull of the idea of justice in the show’s narrative. Evans makes a phenomenal transition from his role on-screen as Captain America to his role off-screen as Bill for his Broadway debut. A seasoned cop, Bill has all the swagger and big-headedness of the typical “man-in-charge.” He is well -liked by everyone in the force and prides himself on the importance of brotherhood. Evans’ portrayal could easily come off as unsympathetic, but he still manages to convince the audience that maybe there is good reason behind his actions.

Dawn offers a great character foil to Bill. A rookie cop and one of few females in the division, she looks up to Bill with doe-eyed optimism. However, throughout the course of the show she comes to realize that his loyalty to other officers can sometimes supercede what Dawn defines as justice. These tensions are only heightened by Bill’s flirtatious relationship with her and his time spent on duty seeing a married woman in the same building that Jeff works.

The four characters are all wrapped up in their own worlds, and they spend the show attempting to reconcile their own issues and perspectives with the actions of those around them. No one character shines more than another. “Lobby Hero” showcases the individual talents of each of the actors while simultaneously boasting an incredible ensemble performance.

The strength of the show can be found in its well-executed script. Despite being written in 2001, Kenneth Lonergan (best known for the screenplay for and direction of Manchester By The Sea) explores important issues that remind the audience a lot of the #MeToo, Time’s Up and Black Lives Matter movements. The show itself never becomes preachy, making the discussions surrounding topics of the marginalized even more potent with the subtlety through which the script presents them.

“Lobby Hero” captures the aching reality of the truth and of admitting this truth to yourself. It encapsulates the raw emotions of people making choices they know may not be the right ones in a large city that at times seems so small, making it relatable to every New Yorker in the audience. Go for the well-rounded performance, and stay for Chris Evans’ mustache.

Broadway show ‘Lobby Hero’ plays distinctive New Yorkers caught in a war of worlds. (Courtesy of Facebook)