“Lobby Hero” opens the door for relevant discussion

A revolving door, an elevator, couches and a large desk. Studio 200, a black box theater, was transformed into the lobby of an apartment building, where a heartbreaking story played out.

“Lobby Hero,” written by Kenneth Lonergan and directed by senior Saul Bazer, ran Feb. 15 through 18 as part of Oak Park and River Forest High School’s Studio 200 program. 

“Lobby Hero” follows a head of security, William, who is struggling with the arrest of his brother and choosing whether or not to give him a false alibi. He confides in Jeff, a lower-rank security guard, who is left with guilt about the entire situation. Meanwhile, a rookie female police officer, Dawn, is facing troubles with her partner, Bill, whom she once adored. The entire play takes place in an apartment lobby.

Bazer chose the play for its realism and grittiness, as it takes on critical topics such as racism, sexism and police brutality. He reflected, “It’s just a really powerful play. I think it does a great job of talking about a lot of current issues like racism and injustice, but also personal issues like love and identity.” 

The process of building up the production took four weeks, as allotted for all Studio 200 shows. Bazer worked with assistant director Wyllow Oladipo, stage manager Ian Kedrowski, assistant stage manager Laila Cespedes, and a group of Theater Tech and Design students. “It was really special to direct my own show, right? Like, see it come alive,” said Bazer.

Sonja Emerson, the sophomore who played Dawn, said, “Since it is student-run we kind of have a different dynamic than the normal shows because we can feel closer to each other and we feel like a bigger part of the process.” 

Throughout the play, Dawn faces sexual harassment and explicit sexism from her male counterparts. “I relate to Dawn because of the challenges she faces being a woman in her efforts trying to get others to respect her as much as they respect men,” Emerson said.

The main character, Jeff, played by senior Pablo Gonzalez, spends much of the show reflecting on his lack of purpose. “I feel like a lot of people in high school are going through this period where they don’t know what they’re going to do in life, which is kind of the same thing as Jeff,” Gonzalez said. “And it’s difficult to go through but like, you push forward and try to find the thing that you love to do.” 

Kedrowski, a junior and the stage manager behind the show, said, “This play is about finding your purpose in life and not being stuck in a rut or a status quo, getting out there and doing something.”

In addition to a hyper realistic storyline, “Lobby Hero” ended on a bittersweet note. Jeff reveals William’s secret to Dawn, who tells Bill, getting both William and Jeff in trouble. From the gasps sounded by the audience, the shock within the room was clear. At the end of the show, William and Jeff exchange goodbyes, and Jeff is left to reflect on his actions.