Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
Without giving away too much of the plot, the play has a "before" section which presents characters living the cubicle life, an event, and an "after," in which we examine how some of the characters process the cataclysmic event.
The acting is magnificent. Several actors play multiple characters, and then there are the before and after versions of the same character to deal with. Company favorite Denise Cormier has never been better, and Asolo Conservatory third year students Jenny Vallancourt, Aleksandr Krapivkin and Wess Tolman demonstrate that this may be one of the strongest classes ever from one of the top ten acting training programs in the country. Delphi Borich and Bryce Michael Wood are giving equally fine performances, although Ms. Borich could slow down her delivery in act one, even though I suspect it is partly a directorial choice, as the character is Asian Valley Girl, 10 years out.
Greg Leaming's direction is brilliant, and the cubicle world of act one fairly crackles yet each character has its own emotional world to inhabit. Costume design by Tracy Dorman is spot on, as is lighting design by Michael Pasquini. Hair/wig and make-up design by Michelle Hart is on overdrive, allowing the actors to be different characters, changing as required by the script. I have never been shy about how much I admire Ms. Hart's work, but I think this may be her finest ever. Scenic design by Reid Thompson is undermined, due to an equipment malfunction on opening night.
All in all, Gloria is given a perfect production where all the elements come together for an incredible theatrical experience. I found myself more fascinated by the second act "after," but several people around me expressed an opposite view. There is graphic content in Gloria, and the company offers a spoiler-ish explanation of the plot for those who may be unsure about seeing it. But the play is best seen without knowing the details ahead of time, and I highly recommend this production.
Gloria, through April 29, 2018, at the Asolo Repertory Theatre Cook Theatre in the FSU Center, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota FL. For tickets ans information, call the box office at 941-351-8000 or visit www.asolorep.org.
Cast (in order of appearance): Ani/Sasha/Callie: Jenny Vallancout**