‘Gloria,’ a dark satire now at Goodman Theatre, is a perfect example of don’t judge a play by its first half hour.
Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins first lulls audiences into “so-what” mode with the irritating whining of editorial assistants at a New York magazine.
But then, the first act ends with a jolt that has audiences coming back after intermission wondering what will happen next.
The play gives an ironic twist in the two scenes of Act Two on what happens after a tragedy hits a New York publishing office that has been staffed with young, impatient-to make-their-mark writers and somewhat older workers who feel stuck-in-place.
While some plays delve into desperate lives and others look at the wherefores of a tragedy and its victims, ‘Gloria’ plays out within the context of the world of NY Times best sellers and LA movie packages.
An Off-Broadway Vineyard Theatre Production, the play is directed with a fine, knowledgeable hand by Evan Cabnet and is presented at Goodman with its excellent New York cast.
Catherine Combs is the pleasant Ani, a cubicle neighbor of Dean played by Ryan Spaln. Jennifer Kim is Kendra, an assistant who doesn’t seem to have much work to do because she is constantly popping in their space to argue between trips to Starbucks and a clothing boutique.
Miles, an intern played by Kyle Beltran, seems to be listening to classical music though it’s not always on. Michael Crane is Lorin, a fact checker who is frustrated because his promotion was only to head fact checker.
Jeanine Serralles is Gloria, a somewhat specter-like staff member who is more talked about than seen.
The action takes place on Takeshi Kata’s well-designed office and coffee-shop sets.
Details: A 2016 Pulitzer Prize Finalist, ‘Gloria’ is at the Goodman Theatre now through Feb 19, 2017. The Goodman is at 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, IL 60601. For tickets and other information visit Goodman and call (312) 443-3800.