The Great Gatsby is a renowned and revered novel. Written in 1925, nearly a century later it still manages to captivate readers. Unsure of how the novel would translate into a theatre production, I’m eager to see how it pans out.
The play begins with a song, an unexpected but pleasant surprise. The music remains and the show begins to feel a little like a musical, which is an interesting take, especially as music was a dominant aspect of the 1920s in America. However, the music may be at the cost of something greater, substance. The end of Act 1 occurs when Gatsby and Daisy meet each other for the first time since Gatsby went to war. Both characters are looking at each other and Daisy is turned away from the audience with her expression hidden.
At the start of Act 2, the same scene is replayed except Daisy is facing the audience and her emotions are in full view. The lighting here is powerful and the whole scene is excellently executed. This is a strong moment in the story. Another moving scene follows shortly after when Nick, Gatsby and Daisy settle down for tea. Nick talks incessantly, whilst Gatsby and Daisy simply gaze at each other. Perhaps more of these soulful moments could be shown and emphasised upon, instead of the numerous musical interludes that occur.
The cast are great. Daisy (Celia Cruwys-Finnigan) looks suitably ambivalent, Tom (Tristan Pate) plays the part of a brute to a T and Myrtle also plays her parts with great enthusiasm. Nick (Adam Jowett) grows on you as the show progresses and he brings an element of comedy which though not as prevalent in the novel works in this adaption. Nick’s dialogue delivery is also notable. When he says “You’re worth a whole damn bunch of them” to Gatsby, the emotion touches the audience.
In this production it seems Nick is the one to steal the show, not Gatsby. Gatsby appears slow in the first half and lacks the magnetism of the character, improving a little in the second when he displays more emotion. However, a genuine connection between Daisy and Gatsby is amiss. Jordan’s character also feels too eager and involved, whereas the impression in the novel is of a more self-centred and blasé character.
The set feels a little convoluted with too many steps in it. The torn background displaying projections works at times but the futuristic elements tend to clash with the emotions displayed on stage. Furthermore, the American accents do waver from time to time, especially during the singing but it is a harmless issue. Overall, it is a respectable attempt at depicting a remarkable novel. 3/5
Review written by Prerna Prasad.
The Great Gatsby is currently showing at the Greenwich Theatre until Saturday 10th October. For more information on the production, visit here…