Spiteful, cynical, structurally flawed – why on earth are critics raving about Gloria?

A scene from Gloria (image: Marc Brenner) Hand it to the Americans. They know how to hype a young talent to death. The latest to be asphyxiated by the literary establishment is Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. He’s written six off-Broadway plays (one adapted from a script by Boucicault), and won a ton of awards and prize money. Most of the English ‘critics’, if one can call them that, have meekly regurgitated the American propaganda. Gloria , which was nominated for the Pulitzer, now arrives at Hampstead. The setting is a snobbish New York magazine, which is absolutely and emphatically not the New Yorker , according to Jacobs-Jenkins. (Before turning to drama, he worked at the New Yorker for three years.) We’re in a poky back office where three bored sub editors carp and backbite about their jobs, their drink problems, and their difficulties securing book deals. Their personalities have too many attributes in common: they’re glib, self-centred, lazy and foul-mouthed. There’s no wit or warmth in the building and no trace of romance between any of the characters. And though it’s fun to watch these over-educated snobs carping and whining for a few minutes, their boorish petulance soon becomes predictable and […]

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