A HAMPSTEAD THEATRE PRODUCTION
By BRANDEN JACOBS-JENKINS
Directed by MICHAEL LONGHURST
Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes including interval
£10 - £35 (See ticket information)
Aren’t you turning thirty any day now? I will die before I turn thirty in a cubicle.
15 Jun - 29 Jul 2017
£10 - £35
Box Office: 020 7722 9301
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New York. A city that runs on ambition – and coffee.
In the offices of a notorious Manhattan magazine, a group of ruthless editorial assistants vie for their bosses’ jobs and a book deal before they’re thirty. But trapped between Starbucks runs, jaded gossip and endless cubicle walls, best-selling memoir fodder is thin on the ground - that is until inspiration arrives with a bang…
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins spins a razor-sharp comic drama about ambition, office warfare and hierarchies, where the only thing that matters is moving up the ladder and selling out to the highest bidder.
Gloria was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama in 2016. Jacobs-Jenkins’ other plays include An Octoroon, which won the Obie Award for Best New American Play in 2014.
Michael Longhurst’s directing credits include Amadeus (National Theatre), Bad Jews (Theatre Royal Bath/West End) and Constellations (Royal Court/West End/Broadway).
Colin Morgan makes his Hampstead debut. His theatre credits include Mojo (West End), The Tempest (Shakespeare's Globe) and Our Private Life (Royal Court). His television credits include The Living and The Dead, Humans, The Fall and Merlin.
Cast includes Kae Alexander (Bad Education), Sian Clifford (Fleabag), Bayo Gbadamosi (Little Revolution, Almeida), Ellie Kendrick (Game of Thrones) and Bo Poraj (The Musketeers).
Gloria contains content which may be disturbing for some patrons under the age of 16.
★★★★ Evening Standard | ★★★★ The Independent
★★★★ Metro | ★★★★★ The Stage
'Nothing can quite match the pulsating, postmodernist brio of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ An Octoroon at the Orange Tree theatre. But, even if his later play Gloria tackles the more familiar topic of the rancid joylessness of the modern media and the urge to commodify personal tragedy, it is still sharp, witty and inventive and hinges on a coup it would be criminal to reveal.'
'Jacobs-Jenkins sets his play in the offices of a smart Manhattan magazine. Although he denies it is a likeness of the New Yorker, where he worked for three years, it is significant he names one of his characters Shawn, after the legendary editor William Shawn. But what hits one is the competitive rancour of the young editorial assistants. Dean is a boozing schmoozer, Ani is a nerdy computer geek and Kendra is a waspish shopaholic who specialises in lacerating put-downs. Even the older staffers don’t exactly radiate happiness. In Lorin we have a funny portrait of the harassed fact-checker; Gloria is the classic loner who has dedicated her life to the magazine.'
'The longer the play goes on, the deeper Jacobs-Jenkins digs, and in the extraordinary second act, he shows the reverberations of the first-act crisis. It also becomes clear what he is writing about: not just the memory of a lost golden age that haunts American journalism, but the soullessness of the present in which any crisis is open to instant exploitation.'
'Michael Longhurst’s production keeps the action whizzing along... Lizzie Clachan’s design transports us from cluttered magazine cubicles to hideously stylish TV offices, and the performances are uniformly good.'
'Colin Morgan is all haggard desperation as the ambitious Dean, Kae Alexander exudes venom as the sharp-tongued Kendra and Bayo Gbadamosi morphs beautifully from an exploited intern into a shiny-suited exec.'
Michael Billington, 22 June, 2017
'“Get a five-year plan. Because if you don’t, you’re going to wake up one day and the thing you thought would be an interesting thing to do after college is actually your career and then you have to live with it.”'
'Set in the New York offices of a high-end features magazine, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Pulitzer Prize-shortlisted play abounds with the sort of brutal straight-talk, honed by the illusion-dissolving acid of wage-slave experience, that’s calculated to make job-seeking millennials violently shudder even as they laugh.'
'In less capable hands, this sort of thing could swiftly devolve into a water-cooler whinge writ large. But Jacobs-Jenkins has intelligent fun, as do the cast of Michael Longhurst’s smart, sharply nuanced...UK premiere, with the sense of entitlement of these gossips, back-stabbers and literary titans manqué. There’s even a touch of Ab Fab as the spikiest of the pack, Kae Alexander’s lip-curling Kendra and Ellie Kendrick’s fresh- and two-faced Ani, break into a mourning duet for a newly OD’d pop-star to the bemusement of a young black intern, upon whom the office, which also numbers the endearingly fretful Dean (Colin Morgan), bestows preposterous errands to a vending machine that’s only metres away.'
'The evening’s essential thrill is unmistakable: the sighting of a major new talent. It blazes bright, if not quite yet in excelsis.'
Dominic Cavendish, 22 June, 2017
The Sunday Times
'The sharply observed first half of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s pitch-black, Pulitzer-nominated play is set amid the sniping junior editorial staff of a Manhattan magazine (the author once worked on The New Yorker) past its fun, rambunctious heyday.'
'A seismic event ends that first half, then this literally becomes a survivor’s tale, with the ghastly jockeying continuing over who has the authority to tell it.'
'Michael Longhurst’s production skewers our contemporary media culture’s sick, slick appetite for commodifying experience into emptily empathetic personal narratives. The cast are great, and after the success of his An Octoroon, it confirms Jacobs-Jenkins as a star in ascendancy.'
Patricia Nicol, 2 July, 2017
'Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ play starts off as a workplace satire set in one of the circles of hell that Dante forgot to stick into the inferno.'
'We're thrown into the company of three frustrated, ruthlessly ambitious editorial assistants in the Manhattan offices of a national magazine. Cubicle warfare amongst these stymied twenty-somethings has reached new levels of toxicity as a beleaguered industry thwarts their desire for career advancement and they are left to fume with a sense of millennial entitlement and resentment at the baby boomers who were too busy swilling down their martini lunches to anticipate the internet and now don't have the grace to die.'
'Michael Longhurst’s excellently acted production communicates with scathing relish the ferociously competitive bitching of this trio as they jostle for position and do each other down. “Don't you hold the title for the Longest Living Assistant on Edit Row?”: Kendra (Kae Alexander), a workshy Asian-American rich kid, enjoys taunting Dean (Colin Morgan), who is pushing 30 and, after five years in the job, still required to do his boss's every bidding, even conveying a bag a puke to the bins at one point.'
'Jacobs-Jenkins has a sharp eye for the hierarchy that here runs from the boss who can't remember the names of the interns to Bayo Gbadamosi’s bemused intern Miles, who's been put off an industry where everyone seems so miserable. The magazine “sucks your soul out of you”, as is attested by the distraught fact-checker Lorin (Bo Poraj) who goes through a mini-breakdown and the titular Gloria (Sian Clifford) who for 15 years has poured her whole life into it and is now regarded as the office freak.'
'Some of the actors reappear with aplomb in different but ironically matched roles and Longhurst's production has a buoyancy that serves the play's mordant verve well. Recommended.'
Paul Taylor, 26 June, 2017
'Whose story is it anyway? It’s a question that nags away during Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ sharp, sizzling satire of the media business. It surfaces comically at first, as the squabbling junior editorial assistants on a New York magazine unite in outrage at the quality of an obituary (written by one of the senior staff) of a much-loved pop star. But as the interval approaches and the play does a screaming handbrake turn into something completely unexpected, it takes on a much darker hue.'
'We begin, though, with grubby office politics as a group of twentysomethings, curdling in their own ambition, take out their frustrations on one another. There’s Dean — handsome, hungover, dishevelled — who is beginning to morph, in Colin Morgan’s excellent performance, from young-and-promising to slightly seedy. As he tries to repair the previous night’s damages — swilling his face under the water cooler, swallowing handfuls of headache pills — he is berated by perky Ani (Ellie Kendrick) and scathing, self-absorbed Kendra (Kae Alexander), who sees no contradiction in belittling her colleagues’ careers while spending most of her own time shopping.'
'Behind a glass screen lurks demanding editor Nan (Sian Clifford), behind headphones lurks all-seeing intern Miles (Bayo Gbadamosi), and behind a partition lurks fact-checker Lorin (Bo Poraj), a sad, middle-aged soul who emerges occasionally to protest at the noise. Oh yes, and there’s Gloria. Why is the play called after her? We are about to find out.'
'Michael Longhurst’s snappy staging relishes the cut and thrust. It neatly shifts location, winding up in the glossy office of a television company as, in the fallout, the increasingly ruthless scramble for success sees a marketable account of what happened triumph over a genuine one. Lizzie Clachan’s design has a deliberately makeshift, set-like quality, making you aware from the outset that you are seeing a version of events (whose?) — which takes on greater significance as the evening rolls on.'
'This is an acid, intelligent portrait of the clickbait era.'
Sarah Hemming, 27 June, 2017
'At thirty-two, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is one of America’s boldest young playwrights, but British audiences are only just starting to discover his work. The provocative An Octoroon can currently be seen at Richmond’s Orange Tree Theatre, and here fast-rising director Michael Longhurst presides over the European premiere of a piece that dwells on the relationship between memory, authority and storytelling.'
'It begins in the New York offices of a magazine that’s in decline. Specifically, we’re among the junior editorial staff, who appear much more intent on bickering and bitching than on grappling with their menial tasks. Yet though they give the impression of laziness, they are fiercely ambitious — and also angry, because they’re crushed by the protocols and hierarchy of an industry that seems impervious to its own obsolescence.'
'The central character is Colin Morgan’s Dean, earnest and disappointed. Alongside him Kae Alexander’s nicely observed Kendra is image-conscious and competitive, and Ellie Kendrick convinces as nerdy, childlike Ani. Meanwhile Sian Clifford’s Gloria feels like a study of angsty isolation — the fact that her name is the title of the play nags at us from the moment the debacle of her recent housewarming party is first mentioned.'
'The stinging office comedy that Jacobs-Jenkins dishes up early on calls to mind David Mamet, there's more than a touch of the structural ingenuity of Caryl Churchill in what follows.'
'The performances are absorbing. The pick of them comes from Morgan, the most nimble among a cast full of shape-shifters.'
Henry Hitchings, 22 June, 2017
The Mail on Sunday
'Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has evidently drawn on his own experience as an editorial assistant on The New Yorker for his sharply written 2016 Pulitzer Prize-listed play set in the row of cubicles that are the ‘culture’ section in an editorial office of a swanky magazine.'
'The writing snaps and crackles, wittily capturing journalistic paranoia and cynicism.'
'Fascinating, superbly written stuff, all the better for having six actors hilariously transforming from one ghastly character into another. It skewers contemporary ingloriousness gloriously.'
Georgina Brown, 9 July, 2017
'Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is taking London. The American’s earlier play, An Octoroon, is enjoying an extended run at the Orange Tree Theatre, he's got a commission for Nick Hytner's Bridge Theatre, and before that Gloria arrives with a strut.'
'A fast-talking, cynical look at office politics and the culture of creative ambition, Gloria isn’t in the same league as An Octoroon when it comes to formal experimentation; it sits comfortably in Hampstead Theatre’s regular diet of talky American dramas. But the dialogue is super-smart, it’s crisply funny in its relentless skewering of the pettiness and pretentions of a bunch of journalists, as well as offering – after a plot swerve I’ll try not to totally spoil – a more profound look at the way traumatic experiences may be packaged up and sold to the highest bidder.'
'Gloria is set in the offices of a beleaguered New York magazine. The privileged twenty-something employees snipe and sneer; there’s a relentless ambition for bylines and book deals, a desperation to get out – or at least get one over on your colleagues. The cast of Michael Longhurst's production are uniformly great: Ellie Kendrick is perfect as Ani, the 'pretty nerd' whose sweetness is tempered with a knee-jerk faux-friendliness. Kae Alexander is appropriately appallingly as Kendra, the snarking, self-promoting rich kid, who spars with Dean, a half-decent guy who drinks too much and is terrified he’s wasting away his life (admittedly, the sympathy does stretch thin at times…) He may be a bit of an smart asshole, but at least Dean – played with weariness but also warmth and wit by Colin Morgan – did actually show up to painfully empty party held by the office weirdo, Sian Clifford's creepily intense Gloria...'
'Gloria is always sharply entertaining.'
Holly Williams, 22 June, 2017
'Something happens just before the interval in US playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' Gloria that shocks, viscerally.'
'Out of the blue and on a sixpence, the play transforms from a farcical office satire - and a hilarious one, too - into an unsettling examination of contemporary employment culture, of unseen societal hierarchies, and of the distasteful rat race of grief that inevitably accompanies tragedy.'
'The first half plays out like a darker, meaner episode of The Office. A trio of assistants and an intern bicker their way through the morning in the edit suite of a New York magazine publisher, fuelled by professional frustration, jealousy and coffee.'
'Then, the something happens, and the two-act second half – for which Lizzie Clachan's astutely textured design shifts from a Starbucks to the lobby of a new-age California media firm – pours over the richly emblematic reverberations.'
'Michael Longhurst directs a tightly wound production, his six-strong, multi-roling cast – all exceptional, particularly Colin Morgan as a nerve-addled wannabe writer and terse IT grunt, and Ellie Kendrick as a variety of bubbly colleagues – inflecting Jacobs-Jenkins' comedy-drama with a disconcerting tension.'
'Gloria is just glorious, ultimately. It's the second invigorating UK debut in as many months from an insightful, intelligent, impish and hugely welcome transatlantic voice.'
Fergus Morgan, 22 June, 2017
SOUND DESIGN AND COMPOSITION
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins wins for Most Promising Playwright
We chat to actor Bayo Gbadamosi about Olivia Coleman, his favourite superhero and alternative career paths.
This competition is now closed and the winners have been contacted.
We chat to actor Ellie Kendrick about Gloria, pre-show rituals and Christine and the Queens.
Georgina Brown awards Gloria four stars
Patricia Nicol awards Gloria four stars
Ham and High award Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' Gloria four stars
Bridget Galton interviews Kae Alexander, who is currently starring in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' Gloria
Sarah Hemming awards Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' Gloria four stars
Paul Taylor awards Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' Gloria four stars
Henry Hitchings awards Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' Gloria four stars
Catherine Gee interviews Ellie Kendrick, currently starring in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' Gloria
Holly Williams awards Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' Gloria four stars
Fergus Morgan awards Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' Gloria five stars
Dominic Cavendish awards Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' Gloria four stars
Michael Billington awards Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' Gloria four stars
Photos by Alice Boagey
Gloria playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins talks to Evening Standard's Jessie Thompson
Full casting announced for Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' Gloria
Three new Main Stage shows announced for 2017
Previews, Mondays and matinees
Full price: £28/£25/£18
Under 30s/Students: £15/£10*
Seniors (matinees only): £20/£18/£15
Groups: For every 9 tickets get the 10th free
Tuesday – Saturday evenings
Full price: £35/£30/£25
Under 30s/Students: £15/£10*
Groups: For every 9 tickets get the 10th free
*Under 30s and Student concession seats are available in rows A (£15) & Q (£10)
Audio described performance:
22 July at 3pm, with a touch tour at 1.30pm
20 July at 7.30pm, with a transcribed post show discussion