Filled with energy and strong characterisations, you really do feel as though you are part of one of Jay Gatsby’s parties.
Filled with plenty of fizz, sparkle and music there is no denying that this immersive interpretation of F Scott Fitzgerald’s timeless story vividly brings to life the 1920’s and the world of Jay Gatsby to life.
From the second that you step into the performance space, Casey Jay Andrews’s attention to detail with regards to the design is extraordinary that makes full use of the space – from a grand piano and chandelier placed on a platform where the music is performed, to a nice interpretation of the the swimming pool area – there is a lot of creative flair that has gone into this. I would have loved to have seen the other areas that some people were taken into and see just how much more design wise that it brought to life – but sadly it wasn’t meant to be on this occasion.
Directed by Alexander Wright, the production does a good job of bringing the story and characters to life – but of course with other characters interacting and mingling with the crowd it can be slightly distracting from the main narrative. This being said I did love the interactive elements of the show – including the opportunity to learn how to do the charleston (a dance style I have always loved but based on my attempts not one I will ever master!) which gave the whole a playful energy that meant the audience felt a strong part of bringing the party to life.
The strength in this adaptation lies in the way in which it uses Nick Carraway’s narration at the centre of bringing the story to life, while Holly Beasley Garrigan’s choreography is by turns wonderfully playful and joyful but then equally dreamy as Gatsby and Daisy reunite in one lovely sequence. Heledd Rees’s costume designs are gorgeous and highlight the glamorous side perfectly.
The contrast between the two halves of the narrative is striking and the second half is delightfully moody and haunting thanks to Rachel Sampley’s beautifully designed lighting that captures the dark elements of the story perfectly. It is certainly stronger in the second half narrative wise as it gives you a stronger grasp of the characters and their motivations that lead to tragedy.
All of the performances are compelling to watch. Oliver Towse as Gatsby has plenty of charm but masking insecurity and loneliness and Lucinda Turner is delightfully playful and elegant as Daisy but then is also able to show great strength as she is caught up between Gatsby and Tom’s fight over her. Elsewhere, Jermaine Dominique has great swagger as the brutish Tom, while Aminita Francis as Myrtle highlights the character’s inner frustration and despair in a powerful and understated way.
While there are elements that perhaps need tweaking such as a few places for people to sit (there were tables but they were reserved and not many of those were available) and the system for the bar needs to be sorted (extremely busy during the interval – which was supposed to be 10 minutes but over ran) – this is still a fun and entertaining way to experience The Great Gatsby.
By Emma Clarendon