Monday, November 14, 2011

Alliance Theatre Lab: Lobby Hero (4 reviews)

The Alliance Theatre Lab opened its production of Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero on November 11, 2011.
When Jeff, a luckless young security guard, is drawn into a local murder investigation, loyalties are strained to the breaking point. As Jeff's tightly wound supervisor is called to bear witness against his troubled brother, and an attractive rookie cop finds she must stand up to her seasoned partner, truth becomes elusive and justice proves costly.
Adalberto J. Acevedo directed a cast that included Mark Della Ventura, Anne Chamberlain, David Sirois, and McLay LaFrance

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Under Adalberto Acevedo’s direction and the work of a strong cast, Lobby Hero becomes a compassionate examination of ordinary flawed human beings struggling to do the right thing as their personal code dictates, sometimes decisively making choices, sometimes stumbling into them – and invariably suffering for those choices no matter how “right” the choices may be.
Oh, and it’s terribly, terribly funny thanks to Lonergan’s creation of his central protagonist, Jeff, a woebegone Everyschlub we can relate to all too well, played to hilariously quirky perfection by Mark Della Ventura in what we’ll argue is the best work we’ve seen him turn in.
Lafrance is serviceable enough as the supervisor trapped between his own inflexible integrity and familial loyalty, although he was still not comfortable with his lines in the second week of production.
The winsome Chamberlain is completely convincing... We hope we’ll see a lot more of her work in coming seasons.
Sirois was simply stunning... The performance never seems like a caricature, and yet, if you’ve seen Sirois in other roles, it will floor you how he has transformed himself into a toxic menace that leaves a slime trail behind him.
All these performances have been guided by Acedvedo with dead solid pacing. He is especially adept at invisibly moving people around the tiny stage to give the illusion of action when, in fact, it’s just people standing around talking to each other.
Following the consecutive successes of Brothers Beckett, Fool For Love and ‘night mother, this production of  Lobby Hero cements Alliance’s reputation as a company to go out of your way to take a chance on seeing.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami Artzine:
It's a fascinatingly cynical piece, Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero, with its moral dilemmas and flawed characters, and the passion poured into this production by The Alliance Theatre Lab makes this play everything it should be.
The terrific cast is led by Mark Della Ventura as the almost professional goofball, hanging by a thread, security guard, Jeff.....  At first glance you think, oh, Della Ventura's been typecast; he can play goofy just standing still.   But there's a lot more hidden behind the sunny smile; he knows he's a loser, he knows he betrays his friends; he knows he's lonely and desperate and he knows his silly jokes are featherweight manhole covers for his inadequacies. 
Sirois's Bill is a quiet thug with deadly authority.  He can't spell nice.
Dawn, Bill's probationary partner in the car and on the horizontal, is Anne Chamberlain and she's every bit of layered as Della Ventura and Sirois.
Director Adalberto J. Acevedo has mounted a faultless Lobby Hero.   The play works as both comedy and drama and Acevedo's actors are more than up to every nuance in the excellent script. 
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Under Adalberto Acevedo’s direction, the Alliance version at the Main Street Playhouse in Miami Lakes becomes a four-person acting showcase for its young cast, three New World School of the Arts grads and a fourth actor who graduated from Barry University. That the four have stuck around to begin their careers here is a lucky break for South Florida theater fans. Here’s hoping they don’t get the New York itch too soon.
Della Ventura, who has given deft and engaging performances on a variety of South Florida stages, demonstrates the reach and depth of his talent in Lobby Hero. He is utterly convincing as the goofy, funny, warm-hearted guy who has been drifting through life
Lafrance lets us peek under William’s stern façade to see a caring, worried man. Sirois nails Bill, making him a charming slimeball determined to keep Dawn in his corner by seduction, threat or both. Chamberlain impressively travels an emotional path from naïvete to fury, seeking vengeance and asking forgiveness. She’s terrific. And so are the costars who shine so brightly in Lobby Hero.
Camille Lamb reviewed for The Cultist:
In the Alliance's production, directed by Adalberto Acevedo, the script's shades of gray are painted with a capable hand, with some exceptions.
The script (especially Jeff's dialog) is written with an alarming "real people" feel. And Della Ventura nailed that, babbling on in simultaneously stupid and smart over-analyses of the mundane, as though he were coming up with it all on the spot. He was so good as the hopeless, artless funny guy, though, that we found some of the character's more serious scenes hard to accept.
Mcley Lafrance's performance initially interrupted our ability to lock into the action onstage. Though the duo had some good chemistry at the outset, Lafrance tripped on many lines. This problem disappeared completely before the end of the first act, though, and Lafrance's character's moral burden was palpable in his performance in the second act.
Anne Chamberlain was wonderful as Dawn, striking the balance we think the playwright intended for her character: half tough "New Yawk" chick, half wide-eyed, vulnerable young girl.
And David Sirois (an Alliance veteran) came across like a veritable sociopath, delivering completely contradictory lines to different characters (and sometimes to the same character) with consistent believability.
The Alliance Theatre Lab presents Lobby Hero at the Main Street Playhouse through November 27, 2011.   

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