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BWW Review: GLORIA at Roundhouse Theatre

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WAAPA students present thought provoking and confronting portrayal of Pulitzer Prize nominated drama

BWW Review: GLORIA at Roundhouse Theatre

WAAPA's 3rd year acting students tackled the dramady GLORIA, a play that was a finalist in the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Whilst the larger themes in GLORIA are thankfully less thought about in Australia, the talented cast and crew delivered an absorbing, thought provoking, and entertaining performance of this play that focusses on trauma and ambition in the working world.

The accomplished and talented Kylie Bracknell [Kaarljilba Kaardn] directed this piece. Kylie has previously produced works in local Indigenous languages, and considering a lot of GLORIA focusses on the power of words, she was a perfect choice. The dialogue for the play may be pre-written, but the performers, and therefore the audience, knew that there's so much in the delivery of language. The performance also highlights- unapologetically I might add- the uncomfortable moments of the piece, which made the delivery confronting at times. This, too, was a deliberate move by Bracknell to ensure the audience was faced with the uncomfortable truths that are explored in GLORIA. Bracknell says in the director's notes that she is a mental health advocate, and this too is clear in the delivery of the show.

GLORIA utilises a fairly small cast, with several performers playing multiple roles. Chaya Ocampo played Kendra brilliantly. The part of Kendra is never positioned to be particularly well liked, but Ocampo delivered the role in a way that the audience could understand the character's motivations. Jack Twelvetree as Dean was similarly skilled with his rather unlikeable character, whilst Darren Kumar played the hapless Lorin in a way that the audience couldn't miss the feeling of being undervalued he carried. Raj Labade portrayed Shawn, Miles and Rashaad and Abbey Morgan played Ani and Sahs, and both performers brought varying depth and humour to each role. Worthy of special mention is Madeline Marie Dona, who played Gloria and Nancy. As Gloria, she was erratic and odd in a way that the audience recognises, which drew us in as the story progressed. It was equally shocking and thought provoking when she instigated the tragedy at the centre of the play. She delivered the role of Nancy with similar skill, bringing the audience to sympathise with the character before showing that she was in fact the same as everyone else. Dona's portrayals made the audience feel a sense of betrayal at each character.

BWW Review: GLORIA at Roundhouse Theatre
The talented cast and crew of GLORIA. Image credit- WAAPA

The play utilised the theatre space very well, with the performers coming into the audience on several occasions. This encouraged the audience to feel a part of the scene rather than viewing it from the outside, which contributed to the confronting nature of the show. We are forced to recognise the ambition of each character because we most likely have come across people just like them. The shameless self-promotion and one-upmanship that drives the characters in GLORIA is stripped bare for all to see and feel. Whilst we may not be exposed here to workplace violence, we are confronted by the actions of several selfish people, and the implications this has. There are moments when the audience is shocked, and the cast and crew pull no punches in making this piece confronting. There are several genuinely uncomfortable moments for the audience, but this is a big plus for GLORIA that ensures the themes and ideas hit hard.

A key driver of the plot of GLORIA is the question of who gets to tell a story, and the differing ideas and motivations each potential narrator might bring. It was truly a rewarding experience to see Kylie Bracknell and the third year acting students at WAAPA telling the story of GLORIA.

GLORIA runs at WAAPA's Roundhouse Theatre until June 16th. Tickets through WAAPA


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