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A CurtainUp London Review
Colin Morgan is the main attraction as Dean, the intern several years ago who now has an intern of his own, Miles (Bayo Gbadamosi) a young black graduate with plenty of talent. Dean arrives late at the office, much later than his intern but not later than another intern, blogger Kendra (Kae Alexander) who talks nineteen to the dozen in a New York lingo that many in London found difficult to follow. Therein lies the problem, do the director and actor go for the authentic New York pace or allow the London audience to get what she might be saying?
We may not grasp every word but we can tell that this very bright graduate is intensely annoying with her shopping habit and frequent trips to Starbucks and precious little work carried out. Linguistically, she may also be the reason people walked out of the theatre before the interval on the night I was there.
Although the play opens with Bach's "Gloria", the Gloria of the title is a hard pressed magazine journalist whose party invitation the previous evening was ignored by all except Dean. When the two female interns, Kendra and self labelled geek Ani (Ellie Kendrick) find out that a female pop star has overdosed they go into karaoke mode and sing her famous song like a pair of girlie fans at a concert. Miles watches bemused.
Dominating the play is the sense of foreboding that the days of hard copy magazines may be numbered. Branden Jacobs-Jenkins worked at the New Yorker before becoming a playwright and undoubtedly he is drawing on his experience there. There is also the portrayal of disaffected older employees Gloria, and Lorin (Bo Poraj) whose main role from the fact checking department behind the temporary partition next door is to tell Kendra et al repeatedly to keep the noise down.
The tragedy at the end of the first act becomes an opportunity for some to make their name with their published versions of their truth. Dean and Kendra meet to discuss the book that each will write about what happened and we realise that every event is an opportunity for that story to be opportunistically retold by writers.
As the two later scenes see the same actors sometimes playing themselves, sometimes just new inventions of themselves, spot memories in Lizzie Clachan's clever sets to the earlier events.
Ultimately in the play when much of publishing has disintegrated into television reportage or social media, there is a comment on what the playwright couldn't possibly have foreseen in 2015, before the President of the USA chose to communicate directly with the world bypassing the writers and the press.
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Written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Directed by Michael Longhurst
Starring: Colin Morgan, Sian Clifford,
With: Kae Alexander, Ellie Kendrick, Bayo Gbadamosi, Bo Poraj
Designer: Lizzie Clachan
Lighting Design: Oliver Fenwick
Sound Design/Composers: Ben and Max Ringham
Running time: Two hours 20 minutes with an interval minutes
Box Office: 020 7722 9301
Booking to 29th July 2017
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 22nd June 2017 performance at Hampstead Theatre, Eton Avenue, Swiss Cottage, London NW3 3EU (Tube: Swiss Cottage)
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