Monday, April 9, 2018

Broadway Theater Review: Lobby Hero

Lobby Hero
By Kenneth Lonergan
Directed by Trip Cullman
Second Stage

By Lauren Yarger
Tensions of race and sexual harassment surface in Lobby Hero, Second Stage's inaugural production at its Broadway Hayes Theatre.

The play,  by Kenneth Lonergan, (This is Our Youth; 2017 Academy Award for  "Manchester by the Sea," follows the interactions of folks in the lobby of a New York apartment building. Naive and awkward security guard Jeff (Michael Cera) always manages to say just the wrong thing under the guise of humor. His no-nonsense boss, William (Brian Tyree Henry), gives him a chance despite his past financial issues and eventually confide in him about what has him stressed: his brother may have been involved in the rape and murder of a woman and has has given the police a false alibi -- that he was at the movies with William.

Jeff betrays some of that trust trying to impress Dawn (Bel Powley), a rookie cop with whom he is smitten. Meanwhile, Dawn might just be able to use the information to solve some of her own problems with her arrogant, senior partner, Bill (Chris Evans). She slept with the attractive cop and now he has a hold over her. Does she want him to back her up in an incident where she might have used excessive force in subduing a suspect? Then she had better continue putting out on demand. And if he wants to spend time on a shift having sex with another women who lives in the apartment building, then she had better wait patiently for him in the lobby and keep her mouth shut.

Dawn feels like it is her fault that she finds herself in an impossible situation. After all, she shouldn't have slept with the married cop in the first place, she knows, and now he can manipulate her and end the career she has worked so hard to begin. Can Jeff father in his father's steps during the war and become an unlikely lobby hero who saves the day?

The play, though predictable throughout its two and a half hours, explores current topics while raising questions of choices and principles, especially when emotions and pressure is involved. Henry creates a layered character, as we discover a man who is conflicted about lying to the police, but who wants to protect his brother -- who might well be innocent --  from the realities awaiting an African-American man who gets lost in the prison system. Cera is a charming mix of naive and annoying and Evans is, unfortunately, a realistic portrayal of sleazy, confident testosterone. Powley, unfortunately, shouts most of her lines, leaving the character at one level. We're never really sure why she make the choices she does.

Lobby Hero's lobby is in the Hayes Theater, 240 West 44th St., NYC. Performances are Tuesday and Thursday at 7 pm, Wednesday at 2 and 8 pm, Friday at 8 pm, Saturday at 2 and 8 pm, Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets:

Additonal credits:
Scenic design by David Rockwell, Costume Design by Paloma Young, Lighting Design by Japhy Weideman, Sound Design by Darron L West

-- Language
-- God's name taken in vain

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York. Shifting from reviewing to producing, Yarger owns Gracewell Productions, which produced the Table Reading Series at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT. She trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Intensive and other training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run. She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She wrote reviews of Broadway and Off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She was a contributing editor for She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice president and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (producer of the annual awards ceremony) and a member of The League of Professional Theatre Women, serving as Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter. Yarger was a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2024 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women or people of a certain race are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide, or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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