By Chuck Graham, TucsonStage.com
Fortunately, playwright Kenneth Lonergan has dressed his timely quandary in considerable New York-style humor.
LTW favorite Rick Shipman is making his debut as director, as well, keeping the pace quick and the tensions taut. With clever writing and brilliant combinations of confrontational personalities, Lonergan mixes and matches the four onstage characters so well that each combination recasts the whole plot.
For example, jumpy Jeff (Cliff Madison) is the new security guard on the graveyard shift in the lobby of this particular Manhattan apartment building. His boss, William (Nick Trice), is a straight arrow, strictly by-the-book guy determined to be the responsible breadwinner in his own family.
Jeff has never been responsible about anything, so immediately that’s a problem. But the ever-scowling William, captain of this little security force, has a brother recently suspected of murder. When Jeff expresses some sympathy, William begins to lighten up.
Tight jaws return when a pair of police officers comes in, the cocksure veteran Bill (Clark Ray) and his new partner the insecure rooky Dawn (Carley Elizabeth Preston). We think Dawn may be a little sweet on Bill, but maybe she wants to keep him buttered up so she gets his recommendation.
On the other hand, maybe Bill intends to use and abuse Dawn just because he can, since his recommendation is essential to her staying on the force.
But then Jeff, being attracted to a woman in uniform, starts his own sweet talk routine with Dawn. And in the process accidentally lets slide some important information about William’s need to help his brother.
Bill has some secrets of his own, too, which Jeff discovers and wants to play for his own maximum benefit.
With so many jugglers onstage trying to keep their balls in the air while dodging the emotional acrobatics of the others, our fun is in watching to see who in this circus of misbegotten clowns can move the quickest on those floppy feet.
“Lobby Hero” continues through July 27 with performances at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, at Live Theatre Workshop, 5317 E. Speedway Blvd. Tickets are $18, with discounts available. For details and reservations, 520-327-4242, or visit ww.livetheatreworkshop.org