Gray Matters 

This year’s Theatre Gym series opens with “Lobby Hero,” a captivating study of moral ambiguity

This play challenges ideas of black-and-white morality in simple but profound ways. The script by Kenneth Lonergan, writer and director of the Oscar-nominated film “You Can Count On Me,” weaves a web of relationships and events complex enough to confuse even the staunchest moralist. When you leave the theater, you won’t be discussing right or wrong as much as wondering, “what would I do in the same situation?”

By matching up a pitch-perfect cast to this outstanding script, St. Peter has once again brought to the stage a compelling slice of modern life filled with robust characters. At the heart of the production is Christopher Evans; his tense performance as Jeff gives the play its slippery and subtle tone. Nervously submissive yet quietly defiant, Evans makes his character as real as they come, a struggling Everyman who provokes equal parts empathy and frustration.

His antithesis is Larry Cook’s Bill, who’s all swagger and testosterone. His cynical, manipulative actions demonstrate a moral compass broken beyond repair, self-fulfillment being his sole motivation. Cook, a master of light roles in musicals, is a revelation here, switching with lightning speed from suave seducer to imperious intimidator.

In the play’s first scenes, Foster Solomon plays William with a mean edge that befits a character wallowing in moral certitude. But when William is forced to put that certitude to the test by a brother who’s been arrested and is looking for an alibi, Foster does a laudable job of making his wrenching internal struggle plain.

Though the youngest in the cast, Meghan Grady more than holds her own among her more experienced brethren. Her Dawn has backbone and a tough demeanor, but Grady also allows the character’s confusion and vulnerability to come through. Her journey is the longest in this play — from enthusiastic newbie to jaded victim to resolute survivor — and Grady navigates the terrain with confidence.

St. Peter’s skill as a director is most apparent in the play’s pacing. He knows when to stretch a silence and when to let lines tumble together. Under his guidance, “Lobby Hero” becomes a finely tuned and highly entertaining trip into the vast gray area between right and wrong. S

“Lobby Hero” performances continue at Theatre IV’s Little Theatre, 114 West Broad St., through Nov. 23. Shows run Thursday through Saturday, 8p.m.; Sunday, 2p.m.; and a special performance Sunday, Nov.16, 7 p.m. Tickets cost $15. Call 344-8040.


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