Lobby Hero runs over two hours without an interval and it’s a credit to cast and crew that the show didn’t meander, nor did it rush by. The production was lifted – literally, thanks to Juliette Whitney’s fantastic raised open-plan lobby set, and figuratively, thanks to Albert Salt’s music, Connor Ross’ sound design, and Lachlan McLean’s lighting. The chemistry between the actors was excellent – whether in moments of conversation, confrontation, or weighted silence.
Victory Ndukwe was suitably no-nonsense and stern in his performance as William, Jeff’s supervisor. There’s something unnatural in how William moves and talks. As he explains to Jeff, he’s had to be ruthless in following and monitoring proper procedure in order to succeed. He detests lying almost as much as walking in on his staff sleeping at their desks, and Victory does lovely work in showing what happens when William’s creed meets the consequences of real life.
Monique Fisher had a great turn as the rookie cop, Dawn. Dawn has made it through the academy with a strong sense of integrity and is hopeful about making a difference. It’s a compelling journey then that Monique charts as we see Dawn’s hopes get tarnished over the show. Her later appeals to Jeff to tell the truth have little to do with him doing the right thing and more about her compensating for her own compromised integrity.
I last saw Ryan Murphy in a heightened and hilarious performance as Lady Bracknell in Artefact Theatre’s, The Importance of Being Earnest, but I’ll be damned I can place that actor in this role. There’s no physical violence, but plenty of brutality in Ryan’s gripping portrayal of Bill – who clearly sees himself as the hero of his story – doing favours, cutting corners – until later when he is very unapologetically not.
The wonderful thing about Kenneth Lonergan’s text, James Vinson’s direction, and Charles Grounds’ acting is how the character of Jeff reveals himself. Idealism is either something unrealistic or something to be mocked. Yet over the running time this casual, joking, timid-ish, possibly-sneaking-naps-on-the-job guard shows himself to perhaps be more dedicated to right and wrong and the truth than either his boss or the cops that swing by.
There’s no doubt Jeff was bullied into keeping his head down as child, but in this unassuming lobby he has enough of a voice to say how things should be. There’s a terrific story being told throughout the show by all involved, led by Jeff’s story and Charles’ brilliant performance.
fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Performance: Wednesday 23 October 2019 – 7.30pm
Season continues to 27 October 2019
For more information, visit: www.aroundthemoonproductions.com for details.
Image: Monique Fisher, Charles Grounds and Ryan Murphy feature in Lobby Hero – photo by Isabella Ferrier
Review: David Collins