Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins's Gloria directed by Echo Theatre Company's artistic director Chris Fields brings to life the playwright's reported early days in New York coming up with dialogue and characters that sizzle.
GLORIA tells the story a young and ambitious writer who, at the age of almost thirty is still an assistant to an editor and his encounters with fellow staffers in the publishing world. Pecking order is well established: the quiet intern, Miles (versatile Devere Rogers later as Shawn, a barista and Rasheed, a TV producer) runs errands at the whim of others in the office. Pretty Alana Dietze (Ani, then Sasha, then Callie) answers phones and Jenny Soo (sharp tongued Kendra later as Jenna). Central to the drama is the writer, Dean (Michael Sturgis.. later as Devin). Lest we forget the overworked fact checker Lorin (Steven Strobel) whose moments charge his scenes with heart felt angst.
To define Jacobs-Jenkins's play is difficult, but on the whole it paints a picture of young professionals all attempting to move off the dime and into the world of publishing one way or another. Basic plot describes how long time staffer, Gloria (Jessica Goldapple, later as Jan), has invited the entire editing team to her special party that only Dean winds up attending. When Gloria shows up the next day, there's not a lot of dialogue, but the air is charged and thick with disappointment.
Amanda Knehan's simple set, creates the magazine office, a Starbuck's and later a TV production office in California.. The switch from coast to coast and how the story of a story unfolds, actually co-opted by one of the characters, to name would spoil the plot.. works. Eventually, it's clear that as life goes on, we all have our own versions of any story, witness the current Kavanaugh maelstrom rocking Washington right this minute. Who was there and what really happened and who gets to tell the story?
I became intrigued with this playwright when reviewing a production of his earlier play "Neighbors" presented at the Matrix Theatre in 2010. His ability to juxtapose personalities and fill out characters in that play was fascinating.
His take on his characters in GLORIA is not quite so dramatic as Neighbors; more subtle, but Fields helps bring them to life by giving them moments.. some with rushed and angry dialogue.. and some in silence. It gets the job done.
The play ends with a bit of ennui, but with the practical realization that even though the action we have witnessed has been somehow turned on its head, it may be only natural that life.. such as it is.. goes on.
by Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins
Directed by Chris Fields
Echo Theatre Company
3269 Casitas Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90039Performances: Sept. 15 – Oct. 21
• Fridays at 8 p.m. Oct. 5, 12, 19
• Saturdays at 8 p.m. 22, 29; Oct. 6, 13, 20
• Sundays at 4 p.m. Oct. 7, 14, 21
• Mondays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 17, 24; Oct. 1, 8, 15
• Call 310-307-3753 or go to www.EchoTheaterCompany.com