As we continue to adapt post pandemic to our new normal, the past two years have caused us to look back at early 20th century history, in doing so, we’re able to draw many parallels current circumstances. Nearly a century on from The Great Depression (1929-1030), a century on from the prohibition era (1920 – 1933) and WWI (1914-1918 what would would have been known as ‘The Great War’ at the time) F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby encapsulates the unpredictability of world events taking shape. Drawing on Fitzgerald’s iconic novel Ruby in the Dust Theatre turn the work into a musical, Gatsby: The Musical – tying our 21st century experience of the 20s and transporting us back to the opulent, roaring 20s of the last century!
Shrouded in mystique, the accomplishments of Jay Gatsby ripple across the US, a war veteran, Oxford attending, nouveau rich individual who seems to ignite the imaginations of those he meets, his legend inspiring those he hasn’t even met as of yet. Gatsby: The Musical revels in the suspense naturally amassed throughout the evening, wondrous stories about the enigmatic presence at points bordering on the mythical, to the point you question whether this character even exists!
The 1925 novel is initially seen via the perspective of WWI veteran Nick Carraway, this shaping the musical. Carraway, played endearingly by Luke Bayer a friendly, charismatic energy ties the production together with his effortless ability to network and bring people together. Enthralled by Jay Gatsby’s achievements, and determined to match the bachelor up to his long lost love, Daisy Buchanan – Carraway’s selfless persona translates. Ross William Wild‘s Gatsby fascinates, a man with supposedly everything, a brooding and intense soul, yet Daisy is the only thing that genuinely matters to him. Jodie Steele‘s Daisy Buchanan entrances, a graceful, sophisticated presence that has both Gatsby and self assured husband Tom Buchanan, played by Bradley Clarkson under her spell.
Robert Grose‘s smooth, slick talking Woolfe radiates, Freddie Love‘s fun-loving Jordan Baker, Tristan Pegg‘s relentless Reporter, Juan Lobo‘s passionate George Wilson, Julie Yammanee‘s free spirited Myrtle Wilson, Oliver Mawdsley‘s mysterious Owl Eyes and Ash Weir‘s spritely, dynamic turn as the additional cast all highlight the tenacity of high society of the early 20th century, illuminating the pomp and circumstance of Gatsby’s legendary elaborate house parties. Henry Brennan‘s arrangements and orchestral elements thoughtfully heighten emotion throughout, the novel’s adaptation into a musical a successful effort. The show’s musical component works well, Victoria Calver‘s musical direction enlivens the space. Choreographer Chris Whittaker and Associate Choreographer Marcus J. Foreman acutely capture the Lindy Hop and Charleston dance genres synonymous with the era, lavish parties and transitions bold and joyous, fuelled with an upbeat, energetic love for life!
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
Gatsby: The Musical is currently showing until Saturday 8th January 2022 at the Southwark Playhouse. To find out more about the production, visit here…