Gloria

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By Branden Jacobs -Jenkins.

Directed by Evan Cabnet.

A remount from the 2015 The Vineyard Theatre production.

At the Goodman Theatre, Chicago.

Somewhat infuriating and provocative corporate drama features satire and explosive action.

A note in the press kit: “In the hopes of maintaining the integrity of the experience of Gloria for our patrons, the playwright  {Branden Jacobs-Jenkins] and the director [Evan Cabnet] respectfully request that those writing about the show please refrain from including revealing aspects of the plot.”

The above request sure is making my review difficult but what can I do? This is a mount of the 2015 Off-Broadway production by Vineyard Theatre complete with the original set and the entire cast as well as the initial director. I must say that the acting, especially from Ryan Spahn (Dean) and Jennifer Kim (Kendra) was terrific as they depicted the twenty/thirty somethings working at a magazine publisher. This crew of assistants, interns and low-level managers are frustrated as they kill time in their cubicles. This over educated group are so bored that petty gossip, ambitious striving fill their work days. These  folks  are a back-stabbing, aggressively nasty individuals whose egos and privileged self-concept are articulated in act one.  Act one demonstrates how the obnoxious Kendra attacks everyone.

While playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has much smartly biting dialogue that satirizes  the millennial’s he  over writes several long monologues. The long speeches quickly turn into “playwright-speak”since individuals simply don’t talk in long rages, especially when others patiently listen awaiting their chance to respond. What is said is a blustering attack  on their office atmosphere that these privileged folks find boring. The negativity suppressed the rage that they feel.

Each character has their moments and an event the night before affects one character and a caffeine addiction affects another. Just as this office satire and its negative monologues are about reach boredom, an event takes place that abruptly  alters the play. With that startling act ending scene, I felt manipulated and got aggravated.

But act two deals with the aftermath of the amazing events. It is now months layer and several characters from the office meet at Starbucks to reconcile after the traumatic happening at the office. They also want to talk about writing a book about the event.

Lastly, there is a scene at a new office (its two years later now.) and we see another media-oriented office peopled by new characters played by the folks from act one as well as some playing the original characters.

I can’t say more so as not to violate that note about revealing key plot elements in this review. Act two got me to understand what Jacobs-Jenkins was aiming for. This is a shockingly provocative drama that is a tad over written with underdeveloped characters with some humor. The performances were terrific and the themes come together in act two. Gloria is worth a visit.

Recommended.

Tom Williams.

Date Reviewed: January 23, 2017.

Jeff Recommended.

For more info checkout the Gloria page at theatreinchicago.com

At the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, Chicago, IL, call 312-443-3800, www.goodmantheatre.org/gloria, tickets $20- $85,  Tuesdays Fen 7  at 7:30 pm, Wednesdays at 7:30 pm, Thursdays at2 & 7;30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2 & 7;30 pm, running time is 2 hours with intermission, through February 18, 2017.

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