Brandon Jacobs-Jenkjins’ play Gloria, directed by André Sills is currently playing at Crow’s Theatre. It’s a hard play to describe as spoilers must be avoided and it works at many different levels. The initial setting is the offices of a New York “culture” magazine where we meet various members of the highly dysfunctional workforce. A shocking event happens and the rest of the play explores how various parts of the media industries relate to such events in the internet age along with issues related to who really “owns” an experience and in what sense does that “ownership” validate or privilege their version of events versus any other. One of the ideas here is that the “product” has become in every way secondary. The magazine is little more than a prop for blog posts. Book publishing is largely geared around selling the movie or TV rights. Movie and TV production is largely about providing a package for prefabricated celebrities to feature in. The irony of a print and internet reviewer writing about all this is not lost on me!
athena kaitlin trinh and Nabil Traboulsi
So what we see on stage are the characters who, in some sense, witnessed the shocking incident attempting to find fame and fortune in the labyrinth of this maze of producers of secondary artefacts. It’s all rather depressing but very well done and largely successful as theatre. The cast, who almost all play double roles is excellent. There’s Nabil Traboulsi as the increasingly unhinged Dean/Devin, Deborah Drakeford as the creepy Gloria and the differently, but equally, creepy Nan. Jonelle Gunderson, Savion Roach, Carlos González-Vío and athena kaitlin trinh most playing multiple contrasting roles as the various media company scenarios play out.
Jonelle Gunderson (left) and Deborah Drakeford (right)
I find it impressive that author and director have found a way of teasing out so many questions, and answering so few of them, in this complex set of scenarios. We spent the whole trip home trying to unpack what we had seen and I’m still working on it. If you want thought provoking theatre this show is likely for you.
Carlos Gonzalez-Vio, Savion Roach and athena kaitlin trinh
Photo credits: Jeremy Mimnagh
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