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A CurtainUp London Review
"Get a five-year plan. Because if you don't, you're going to wake up one day and the thing you thought would be an interesting thing to do after college is actually your career and then you have to live with it. ." — Dean
Bayo Gbadamosi) as Miles and Colin Morgan as Dean (Photo: Marc Brenner)
Gloria is one of those plays which is impossible to review fully because of a cataclysmic event that happens at the end of the first act. Any review alluding to that would have spoiler status and yet, how else to write about this play without mentioning the elephant in the room? Even the theatre programme has sealed pages to stop the audience reading about the "shocker" before the interval. Members of staff are armed with paper knives to help those cut these forbidden pages at the appropriate time. (For Elyse Sommer's sans spoilers review of Gloria in New York go here go here).

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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