The review is in! Huge thanks to Jeff Hockley.
Welcome back to the theatre of 2021. Two weeks ago, in ‘The Bridesmaid Must Die!’, we were laughing at situations involving domestic violence and suicide; last night, in ‘Gloria’, we were laughing at workplace bullying and suicide, and in two weeks we enter the black world of ‘The Nether’. Is it coincidence that all three present us with situations that make us uncomfortable, with shock value a-plenty wrapped in what might seem an ordinary existence?
Three River Theatre and IO Performance have teamed up to present ‘Gloria’, an of-the-moment satire which delivers just that, and a whole lot more. The moments are seriously tragic and shocking and in the words of playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins they are purposeful. We are meant to laugh at his take on millenials as well as gasp in horror at the situations he places them in.
It takes a committed cast to work the complex text and director Georgie Todman has clearly spent a lot of her talent in getting the dialogue spot-on. The characters have a unique distinction which is essential when many are playing multiple roles. Almost all characters have long monologues and in every case they were delivered with a sense of purpose worthy of a drama school audition.
The interactive dialogue was sharp, witty, and firmly placed which reminded me of ‘The Office’ – ironic since the play is set in an office too. Newcomers Mason Bennett and Jasper Tabuyo deserve special mention for strong work against a more experienced cast.
The set design by IO Performance supports the play’s context despite the limitations of the physical theatre it is placed in, and the special effects show some spectacular professional design.
My only quibble would be that even sitting in row 2 I had trouble with hearing all the nuances of the dialogue, especially when the show is presented as something like a TV drama and not one made for a stage.
Pre-publicity calls this play deeply incisive, provocative, and shocking. It’s also witty, sharp and contemporary. Go and see it for yourselves – it’s definitely worth being both awed and confronted in a Jacobs-Jenkins world.
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