For its 22nd season opener, Stray Cat Theatre presents a stellar production of the Arizona premiere of “Gloria,” an interesting, unique, and timely play. Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins creates a terrifying scenario. He ends the first act with a horrific and unexpected occurrence that the playwright then dissects the ramifications of what transpired and its character impacts.
“Gloria” is a very disturbing piece based on contemporary issues but it is a sad statement about the often-blind acceptance of this generation.
As directed by Dolores E. Mendoza the play moves swiftly but dialogue is occasionally spewed so quickly that words are not understandable. The six-person ensemble play multiple roles as events impact various participants. Kiss-up writer Dean goes out of his way to endear himself to stylish but superficial editor Nan earning him the consternation of fellow writers Kendra and Ani. Another editor, Lorin, wants nothing to upset his work and he doesn’t like writers chatting about non-work-related things. Miles is a thoughtful intern who isn’t quite as naïve as he appears initially. Gloria is a mousy writer who emerges as the most multi-dimensional character. The secondary characters provide additional facets as the plot twists and turns.
Johnny Kalita plays Dean with throbbing sincerity as he struggles to grasp what has happened and how it affects him. Willa Eigo plays the opinionated Kendra and, while capturing the character’s intensity, her dialogue is often unintelligible. Sabrina Harding is solid as Ani, the blandest writer. Jonathan Hernandez is appropriately strident as Lorin while Everett Pervall is the stalwart Miles who still has a glimmer of hope as he begins his internship with this jaded staff.
“Gloria’s” opening night had an impressively age-diverse near sell-out audience who laughed raucously at the play’s comic moments but grew quiet and reflective as the play painted its bleak generational picture. A well-deserved standing ovation during the curtain call seemed justifiably appropriate.