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BWW Review: GLORIA at Profile Theatre

This production runs through January 30 at Imago Theatre.

BWW Review: GLORIA at Profile Theatre Branden Jacobs-Jenkins must have had a crystal ball on his desk when he wrote GLORIA, his bitingly funny and also punch-you-in-the-gut play currently on stage at Profile Theatre. The play, which premiered Off-Broadway in 2015 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2016, speaks with eerie coincidence to two of the biggest national conversations taking place today.

The first is our relationship to work. You've probably heard the term "Great Resignation," referring to the hordes of people who have recently quit their jobs or are planning to quit in the near future. Many (particularly women with caregiving responsibilities) have left the workforce altogether. To find out why people are quitting, researchers at MIT analyzed 34 million online employee profiles. The number one reason - by far - is a toxic corporate culture.

The other conversation is who owns, or at least who gets to tell, a specific story.

GLORIA begins by sketching a very toxic culture among editorial assistants at a magazine publishing office. There's Ani (played by Brenan Dwyer) - she's young, recently out of college, and nice but looks down her nose at everyone; Kendra (Akari Jensen) - also young, stuck up, always late, treats everyone with derision, doesn't actually do any work; Dean (Nick Ferrucci) - disillusioned, alcoholic 30-something with writing ambitions but stuck as an assistant to Nan (Foss Curtis); and Miles (Gerrin Delane Mitchell) - the intern who has wisely learned to keep is headphones on so that he can at least pretend not to hear the rest of them.

All these people do is make fun of others and fight - loudly, mostly about stupid stuff, and to the great annoyance of Lorin, the fact checker (John San Nicolas), and doubtless everyone else within earshot. This particular day, one of the main issues they're fighting over is the fact that everyone else bailed on Gloria's housewarming party the night before, leaving Dean there on his own. Gloria (also Foss Curtis) is the office outcast - she's been there forever and no one likes her or really seems to know her at all. Anything else would be a spoiler, so I'll just say that the way the play unfolds is both shocking and tragically predictable.

Jacobs-Jenkins has a knack for illuminating the worst of human nature. Under Josh Hecht's direction the cast does an excellent job of creating characters that are difficult to find compassion for but easy to relate to - who hasn't indulged in a little cruel office gossip? Akari Jensen's Kendra is the ultimate entitled Millennial, while Nick Ferrucci plays Dean with all of the pent-up bitterness of a stagnant life. Foss Curtis is exquisite in her roles of the tortured title character and also Nan, whose you're just never quite sure you can trust.

I loved GLORIA. It surprised me, got my heart racing, and gave me a lot to think about. I highly recommend it.

GLORIA runs through January 30 at Imago Theatre. Details and tickets here: https://profiletheatre.org/gloria/



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