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BWW Review: GLORIA at A.C.T.'s Strand Theater - A Sharp, Shrewd Work That Is Bound To Be A Classic.

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BWW Review: GLORIA at A.C.T.'s Strand Theater - A Sharp, Shrewd Work That Is Bound To Be A Classic.
Kendra (Melanie Arii Mah) and
Dean (Jeremy Kahn) in Gloria

Office politics reach frightening heights in Gloria, the blistering satire now at A.C.T.'s Strand Theatre. No playwright is quite so adept at capturing the self-absorption and superficiality of the Instagram age as Brendan Jacobs-Jenkins does in this darkly comic masterpiece.

Lowly assistants at a magazine publisher bicker over their places in the hierarchy, each miserable with the path their career has taken but more content to complain than take action. There are echoes of Mamet in Jacob-Jenkins' staccato, but his brilliant savagery takes us to new lows as his workers see an opportunity to transform a tragedy into personal success at the expense of their colleagues. We howl at every slight, from the mundanity of coffee no longer being served in the breakroom to a man's outrageous threat to rip his female coworker's face off. Jacob-Jenkins ducks and weaves from hilarity to atrocity, and we might just catch our breath long enough to realize, as Gogol might put it, we are laughing at ourselves.

Every member of the six-player ensemble shines. Martha Brigham and Jared Corbin deftly twist themselves into three diverse characters. In dual roles, Lauren English makes two women struggling to find their place in the world relatable. Jeremy Kahn and Melanie Arii Mah are formidable sparring partners in both acts, and Matt Monaco brings humanity to the proceedings as the office's moral compass.

BWW Review: GLORIA at A.C.T.'s Strand Theater - A Sharp, Shrewd Work That Is Bound To Be A Classic.
Miles (Jared Corbin), Dean (Jeremy Kahn), and Gloria (Lauren English) in Gloria

Jacob-Jenkins' canny script is aided by Eric Ting's keen direction. The interpersonal dynamics unfold like a finely-tuned chamber orchestra, with Lawrence E. Moten III's impressive set design and Madeleine Oldham's dramatic sound design giving the piece an operatic feel.

Gloria is a sharp, shrewd work that is bound to be a classic, and a chance to see one of the most skilled writers of our day at the height of his powers.


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