A new company in Toronto’s theatre scene, Icarus Theatre is currently presenting their first full-length play Lobby Hero at the Alumnae Theatre. Written by Kenneth Lonergan and directed by co-founder of Icarus Theatre Liam Eric Dawson, Lobby Hero is definitely an interesting play to tackle for their first show. With a small cast of morally ambiguous characters, Lobby Hero will leave you with plenty to chew on.
Taking place in the lobby of a New York apartment building, Lobby Hero is about Jeff, a down-on-his-luck security guard who is finally getting his life together after a string of bad decisions aided by his no-nonsense manager William. When William’s brother gets in trouble with the law, and the police start coming around more frequently for ‘social visits,’ Jeff finds himself in several difficult moral dilemmas simultaneously. Meanwhile a more senior male police officer is using his charm and seniority over his rookie female partner, allowing him to get away with all kinds of blatant misconduct while on the job, yet her desire to do good despite him and the other officers might sometimes go too far. All of their morals become compromised at one point or another, forcing the audience to ask themselves what they would do in that situation.
Lobby Hero originally premiered off-Broadway in 2001, and you can tell from the writing that it’s very much of that time. While the issues themselves are still very relevant, the way in which they are written feels more specific to that time. I felt like the stakes were weirdly not high enough for Jeff specifically; Jeff keeps inserting himself into the moral quandaries that he finds himself in, but no one else’s issues truly have a direct impact on his life. It really isn’t until the 11th hour of the play, when he really messes things up for William, that you truly feel like there is any kind of danger or potential consequences. Not to mention that with every single character having moments where you just don’t like them or their choices (and for Jeff, his last scene is a doozy), it’s difficult to feel satisfied with the end result of the play. However, none of this is the fault of the actors or creative team behind this specific production, rather the writing and the world in which we now live.
The cast of Lobby Hero is a strong one. Jeff is played by Anthony Goncharov, who gives his character an earnestness and charm that makes Jeff very relatable. Matthew G Brown gives a great performance as William, Jeff’s manager. Brown has a strong command of the stage, and I could feel how high the stakes were for his character personally. Emily Anne Corcoran plays Dawn, the rookie cop who Jeff is infatuated with. She also has an earnestness to her character mixed with a naivete which we watch her grow out of quite quickly during the course of the play. Rounding out the cast is Connor Briggs as the suave, super-cop Bill. Briggs’ performance has all of the swagger one would expect from an NYPD officer, especially one who was getting away with so much while being beloved by all of his colleagues. All of the actors gave great individual performances, but I found that sometimes their chemistry together seemed a tad off; I chalk this up to Opening Night jitters, as I saw their first performance on December 7th.
I look forward to seeing what Icarus Theatre will have in store next. They certainly show great promise from this first full production, and I know that there will be many more fantastic productions to come. You can still catch Lobby Hero at the Alumnae Theatre until December 17th. For more information and tickets, visit: LOBBY HERO | Icarus Theatre