Skip to main content

Gloria- Hampstead Theatre




The thing that swung this production, aside from the fantastic writer that is Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins, and a great cast including Colin Morgan, was the news that the Hampstead had sealed bits of their programme to protect spoilers. Though I admit to be slightly unnerved by the instruction to let an usher use a knife on my programme at the interval....

Gloria. Who is Gloria? well in the spirit of the Hampstead's extreme spoiler tagging this post will remain major-spoiler free. To that end then Gloria is the slightly downtrodden employee of a magazine, the longest serving assistant amid a pool of cynical younger assistants. Gloria eventually becomes the centre of some shock waves that rip through that pool of assistants, and give us some insight into the modern world, and the makings and marketing of, well pretty much event.



The editorial team, led by Colin Morgan's Dean- senior and long serving assistant to Nan. He arrives dishevelled and hung over, having been at Gloria's party the night before. Cynical, jaded but harbouring secret literary ambitions, he's derided by the younger assistants Kendra and Ani. Meanwhile intern Miles sits quietly in his own corner taking in a world he's not even sure he wants to be part of.



Act One wouldn't be out of place in any television drama or sitcom- group of twenty somethings in an office, struggling with the changing world around them. I'm loathe to utter the word 'Millennials' but the changes in the publishing industry, and the difference between the world their bosses came of age in and their own working life are palpable. There is talk of five year plans- or lack of them- and secret ambitions. There's a fission of jealously when the intern seems to get on swimmingly with unseen boss Nan. There's resentment of Kendra's seeming lack of work, and Ani's seeming ease of getting any other job she'd like with her computing background. Meanwhile Dean's frustration at having stalled in one job at almost 30 and his frustrated literary ambition.  So far so 20-something drama.



But even without the shock ending to Act 1 that catapults everything up about 10 gears, it's much more than the cubicle bitching and office dramas. It's the sharp eye for the world around us, and a way of capturing that awful 'Millenial Experience' and 'Modern Life' that many a magazine article ironically fails to do. There's a deft awareness of the undertones of the society we live in brought out by these characters. From the sharp references to privilege of different kinds, it's a sharp observation of heirarchies of subtley at work.

It's an impeccably presented production. Colin Morgan is endearing at Dean and provides a strong centrepoint for the cast. His second act appearence as Devlin is also one not to be missed for sheer power of costume and wigs. There is much doubling across the second act, cleverly cast and cleverly dressed/wigged in a production that is slick and cleverly staged. Of the rest of the cast Sian Griffiths and Kae Alexander rise to the challenge of their varied roles, and are utterly convincing, entertaining and unsettling as requried. Underrated and in the play purposefully unoticed is Bo Poraj as Lorin. Who provides an emotional footnote at the end of the play.





Gloria will be talked about for the shocking end to Act 1. And the staging and the unapologetic manner in which such a moment is depcited is in itself to be applauded- the world we live in is not one in which theatre should shy from such moments. However it's the sublties of the buildup and the fallout that Jacobs-Jenkins should be appluaded for. His is a shrewd observation of the modern world which is realistic without resting on cliches. It is a sharp, often witty and always engaging world in which we see our darker edges reflected back.

Until 29th July Hampstead theatre London.
www.hampsteadtheatre.co.uk


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Theatre Fangirls (here we go again)

There's some arguments that come around and you think 'really? we're still talking about this?' but also you're not really surprised.

So when it was annoucned Tom Hiddleston was teaming up with Kenneth Brannagh for a production of Hamlet, it was inevitable that the cries of  'Silly fangirls' began. Once again we're confronted with comments that girls 'Only want to see it because he's in it' and 'Aren't interested in the play'.

And because I am a woman, therefore incapable of thinking of him other than in terms of his looks....here he above with a cat looking cute.

But just like Mr H there is both petting a cat, reading a newspaper and looking brooding, I'd like to point out that it's entierly possible to be interested in more than one aspect of a thing at the same time. And secondly I say so what the audience is just there to look at his cheekbones?

I don't have a horse in this race. I think Hiddles is a damn good ac…

Why Elliott & Harper is the company I've been waiting for

I can never resist a good (bad) pun in a title. As the first production from Elliott & Harper opens its doors for previews tonight, it’s worth pausing to think what this new production company means and why indeed we need more like it. Something of a ‘power house’ company formed of Marianne Elliott and Chris Harper. Both coming from the National Theatre- as Director and Producer respectively- there’s a real understanding of both the craft of theatre and the audiences that do- and don’t- come to it there. And theatre made by and produced by theatre people, in the commercial realm. That’s potentially very exciting.








Firstly, the act of two theatre people who really love theatre, really understand theatre both from an audience point of view and an artistic point of view. Secondly, one of the UK’s best directors striking out on her own to make theatre on her own terms. Thirdly, and you bet it’s an important factor, a woman artistic director. It’s all exciting, and has the potential, …

Angels at the National (a reflection before the review)

I had to do a Kushner and give this post a long subtitle.

When I called my PhD thesis "Angels at the National" (I write terrible titles I know) I never thought I'd be able to say it again. Of course, the Gods like to have a laugh at my expense so mere months after I bound the copy, Rufus Norris and Marianne Elliot got together and decided that I clearly hadn't had enough to write about. 


But how does it feel to have the thing that has lived in your head for so long, back, brought to life in front of you? As much as I love the plays, I'm also conditioned to be hyper critical. I know every line (I amazed/freaked out Elliot herself with my ability to know exact quotations on demand). And of course, I have my own expectations about how it should be. How then would it feel to go back? 



At the end of Part 1 I found myself leaning on the railings by the Thames, trying to compose myself and my thoughts enough to move. At the end of Part 2, I'm sure I had forgotten how …