For their latest and ambitious production, Blackeyed Theatre brings the glamorous 1920’s world of F.Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby to life.

This new adaptation sweeps audiences away to the 1920’s the second that they step into the auditorium, thanks to the fantastic set that has been designed by Victoria Spearing. Clean, white and adaptable, the set makes full use of the space and allows the audience to see what is happening easily throughout. Judging by the set alone, it suggests that the production is going to be an elegant and sophisticated show.

Gatsby 2
(Image: Alex Harvey-Brown)

When people think about the Roaring Twenties or the jazz age, we tend to think of jazz,glamour and a celebration of the changing of the times and attitudes. This is something that Fitzgerald’s novel and Blackeyed Theatre’s production brings together successfully.

The use of live music, particularly the opening number Gatsby’s Theme/Party Music Opening Number (a combination of Baby won’t you please come home and somebody stole my gal), really helps to set the tone and mood for the production. However, over time as more live music is used it feels a bit more unnecessary and distracts from the story that is unfolding in front of us.

Blackeyed Theatre’s production is filled with a number of different ideas that can make the production feel chaotic and over the top in places, losing the story of Gatsby occasionally, with the music and the slightly awkward scene changes that slows down the plot.

However, The Great Gatsby does contain some great performances, in particular from Adam Jowett as the naive Nick Carraway who isn’t prepared for the glamour of the world that he is thrown into, Tristan Pate as the aggressive and unpleasant Tom Buchanan and Celeste De Veazey as the glamorous and sophisticated Jordan Baker.

The production also succeeds in showing how that underneath all the money and glamour, happiness and friendship can not be bought and that glamour and sophistication is in fact superficial. It reveals effectively the tension and underlying viciousness in various relationships but could have perhaps explored it even further to make the production finish on an even more powerful note.

Stephen Sharkey’s adaptation moves swiftly throughout, but almost too swiftly that doesn’t allow the audience time to get used to the characters or develop any kind of understanding for them.

It is a production that has plenty of potential but perhaps just needs a little more finesse for it to reach its full potential effectively. But that doesn’t distract from the wonderful glamorous side of the production that transports the audience to the 1920’s and leaves them wanting more.

The Great Gatsby appears at the Greenwich Theatre until Saturday 10th October. 

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