Be prepared to talk among yourselves.

Kenneth Lonergan's "Lobby Hero," onstage at Live Theatre Workshop, is designed to make you laugh, sure, but it is also designed to make you consider what is ethical and what isn't. And ask if the means justify the end. And wonder what you would do if you were faced with the same circumstances. The characters don't have easy choices to make.

The LTW production directed by Rick Shipman is a fine, well-paced version of the 2001 play.

The whole story takes place in the lobby of an apartment building, and just outside the building.

Jeff (Cliff Madison) is a bumbling security guard. His boss, William (Nick Trice), is a no-nonsense guy who is a stickler about the rules; Bill (Clark Ray), a rules-aren't-meant-for-me cop who makes regular visits to an apartment in the building, and Dawn (Carley Elizabeth Preston), a rookie cop and Bill's partner.

Each one of these characters is faced with an ethical dilemma, and the resolution isn't always what's expected.

Madison has a knack for comedy, and he infused plenty of laughs into the production in his role as Jeff. What he missed out on was making clear the internal struggle his character must have had as he is faced over and over again with "what to do" situations. Madison has handled subtext well in other productions; this one really needed it and didn't get it.

But Trice as the head security officer at the building nailed his subtext and his role. William's pent-up rage, his devotion to fairness and the rules, and his struggles dealing with a wayward brother all combine to give us a character we fear and admire. Trice makes his ethical dilemma painful and palpable for the audience.

Ray's cop was a bully and a cad, and the actor shaped him perfectly, giving him a touch of charm and a whole lot of slime. Preston's Dawn was a conflicted and frightened woman trying to make it in a man's world. When her big ethical moment came - revealing something someone told her - we understood why she did what she did, but the way she did it is gasp-worthy.

"Lobby Hero" is an unlikely summer offering - instead of giving us something light and easy, LTW has given us a play that makes us think.

And that's a good thing, even in the summertime.


• What: Live Theatre Workshop's "Lobby Hero."

• By: Kenneth Lonergan.

• Director: Rick Shipman.

• When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays through July 27.

• Where: 5317 E. Speedway.

• Tickets: $18; discounts available.

• Running time: Two hours with one intermission.

• Reservations, information: or 327-4242.

• Et cetera: Contains adult language.

Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at or 573-4128.