Friday August 18th 2017

“Lobby Hero”

Redtwist Theatre, the little storefront located on Bryn Mawr Avenue in the Edgewater neighborhood is known for doing very intimate theater, “up close and personal” is how they phrase what they do, and their current production, “Lobby Hero” written by Kenneth Lonergan, certainly achieves this goal. This is a clever story that Redtwist has added a new twist to in that they have removed the black paint from their outer window facing Bryn Mawr so that passers by can see in and we, the audience can look out onto a street with traffic and people as part of making the production complete. After all, the action takes place in the lobby of a Manhattan high rise apartment building so indeed  director Keira Fromm gives us the feeling that we are indeed the proverbial fly on the wall watching the action from within the lobby itself. 

The story is about Jeff ( Andrew Jessop, who with every play he does continues to mature as a complete actor), a young security guard who is trying to rebuild his empty life and desires to somehow become someone of some importance. During the course of this particular evening, his supervisor tells him of a personal problem involving his brother.  William ( a strong performance by Michael Pogue) is an honest, law abiding citizen put into a comfortable situation. His brother may or may not be involved in a murder case. Meanwhile, the beat cops come into the lobby, one, Bill ( a solid performance by Eric Hoffman), the veteran, to visit a lady resident and the other Dawn ( deftly handled by the always reliable Maura Kidwell), a rookie who has had a little fling with Bill, her partner, remains in the lobby and talks with Jeff, who informs her of why Bill is really upstairs.

What happens over the next  scenes, accounting for three additional nights is that Jeff andDawn spend more time learning about each other. We learn more about what might have really taken place involving William’s brother and the power that Bill has over Dawn. Jeff, just trying to make idle conversationwith those around him has placed himself in an unwanted situation with William, with Dawn and with Bill. He may be responsible for changes to all their lives and futures as he faces the differences between right and wrong and the small line that perhaps is the dividing point between them. This is an intricate story filled with many comic touches and due to the outside world being part of the set ( the inside lobby set was designed by Jessop, the outside is just Chicago) and real situations existing on Bryn Mawr, we probbaly see a different series of outside extra scenes each performance. Let’s face it, real police cars, blue lights blazing might just be going down the street andthe actors have to respond to what is happening; people, seeing a cop out on the street might just ask a question or for directions- the actors rose to the occasion. As the story ends, we feel that both Jeff and Dawn have grown as individuals and both have found a new direction in their lives.They now know the difference between what is right and what is wrong, for their self-esteem.

Redtwist does white hot drama in a tiny black box with a little red twist and in this production they do so to perfection. The sound and music by Christopher Kriz, the lighting effects by Christopher Burpee, the costumes by Joelle Beranek and even the props by Joel Lambie all help to complete a show that is exciting to watch. The characters feel real and as I stated earlier, the situation and the way this production is staged truly makes the audience feel as if this is indeed happening “live”! ( I don’t mean live acting, but rather, that it is taking place as we watch. To get an opportunity to see this special evening of theater for yourself, and you only have until January 2ndto do so ( unless they can extend), I suggest you call 773-728-7529 or visit www.redtwist.org right away.

The performances are on Wednesdays through Sundays at 7:30 p.m. ( approx run time 2 1/2 hours) with no performances on 12/24 , 12/25,12/26,12/31 or 1/1) Tickets are $25-$30 ( seniors and students get $5 off) a great value for theater of this quality.

Redtwist Theatre is located at 1044 West Bryn Mawr with metered street parking and one block from the Bryn Mawr Red line stop.

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