The Great Gatsby ★★★ Gatsby's Mansion | Extended Run

Published in 1925, F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby, came to define the Jazz Age – a period of self-indulgent high living that had a dark underside. Fitzgerald's masterpiece exposed the materialistic reality of the American Dream while simultaneously creating an appetite for the affluent lifestyle of its protagonist. Gatsby throws extravagant parties to try to attract his one true love, and this immersive experience seeks to emulate one of those soirées. The audience/guests at the event mingle with the actors and periodically participate in activities like a dance lesson, an auction, and a party game involving tea service. At the same time the tragic story of Gatsby's love for Daisy Buchanan unfolds. The show has been running in London since 2017 and is now returning with a new cast. For us, the standout performances were Alex Wingfield who managed to capture the crass brutality of Tom Buchanan quite perfectly, and Hugh Stubbins who did a fine Nick Carraway. The latter was suitably pensive and rueful as he reflected on Gatsby's story; however, Stubbins' narrations, largely taken from the novel, seemed somewhat ponderous in the party atmosphere created. They simply undercut the festive vibe the rest of the cast were desperately trying to create. Indeed, it seemed that was the main problem with the evening. The glitzy surfaces of Gatsby's life cover over and foreshadow an awful reckoning. There is a fundamental incongruity and irony exposed as the audience is encouraged to participate in a high-spirited, interactive party while being simultaneously asked to follow a wordy, complex and ultimately tragic narrative. For a taste of the Jazz Age lifestyle the immersive experience works; for Fitzgerald's story of broken dreams, perhaps, better to read the book.

Rated: ★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Mark Senior.

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