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Gloria: Theater review by Adam Feldman
Print-media worker bees are a miserable hive of ambition and self-involvement in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s cunningly structured Gloria, set in the office of a once-great magazine that has been running on fumes for years. The editorial assistants—Dean (Ryan Spahn), Kendra (Jennifer Kim) and Ani (Catherine Combs)—are stymied and small-spirited. The fact-checker, Lorin (Michael Crane), is in a perpetual state of panic and pique. The Ivy League intern (Kyle Beltran) is over the whole experience. And then there is longtime copy editor Gloria (the full-throttle Jeanine Serralles), who wanders the office like a mortified zombie, stricken at the failure of her house party the night before, which almost none of her supposed work friends had attended.
Those who saw Jacobs-Jenkins’s extraordinary An Octoroon last year may not be surprised when Gloria takes a sudden swerve from knowing workplace comedy into a wider lane of social comment. The play's satirical streak—its sic transit gloria mundi attitude toward the media and the way it distorts us into frenzy—is accented (and sometimes stressed too hard) in Evan Cabnet’s direction. But the play has powerful things to say about how we tune in and tune out. After the shock, it’s the human touches that linger.—Adam Feldman
Vineyard Theatre (Off Broadway). By Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Directed by Evan Cabnet. With ensemble cast. Running time: 2hrs 10mins. One intermission.
Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam