Energetic, authentic and emotional, that’s how I would sum up this performance! Taking a well-loved classic close to all our hearts, director Laura Jayne Bateman made this modern classic come to life using only a very minimalistic set and five actors.
For those who aren’t familiar with the story, The Great Gatsby portrays Nick Carraway’s meeting and friendship with the infamous Jay Gatsby, as Nick reunites him with his childhood sweetheart Daisy Buchanan. The plot is intensified with the addition of a jealous husband, a mistress and a disdain for ‘new money’, which serves to fuel the dramatic tension in both the novel and the play.
The set was unusual in its minimalistic nature, as it contained only a screen, a few stools and of course T.J. Eckleburg’s all seeing glasses. The screen which both hid and highlighted much of the action on stage really added the element of mystery that is essential to the plot, as it gave the audience a sneak peek into the action without revealing everything. Blatant rows and secret conversations took place behind the screen, making it a genius addition to the set.
“I was pleasantly surprised to find the set design worked really well when paired with the Charleston dancing”
Perfect little reminders of the novel were scattered all over the place, including the green light at the end of the play which perfectly captured the theme of longing and desperate love. It was the little connections to the book which I feel made the play, and were well suited to those, like myself, who are massive fans of the novel.
At first I was a little sceptical of the minimalist set, wondering how a classic Gatsby party could be recreated on stage without the detail you would expect, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the set design worked really well when paired with the Charleston dancing, which was a perfect way to bring the Jazz Age to the Lakeside Arts Centre.
“The character of Nick Carraway, played by Nick Gill, was fantastic”
At the beginning of the performance, the audience acts as a mirror, as we see the characters acting towards us as if we cannot be seen. Daisy Buchanan, played by Sophie Walton, is seen applying her makeup repeatedly facing the audience. This feminine action is then contrasted sharply as Nick directly addresses the audience, describing, in his long monologues, the splendour and joy that was meeting Mr Jay Gatsby. The character of Nick Carraway, played by Nick Gill, was fantastic, played with a slight New York accent which made the character all the more authentic. His performance of Nick, who in my opinion is immensely difficult to capture on stage, was captivating and imaginative.
In fact, all the actors were enthusiastic and full of an energy which really made this a stand-out performance – especially considering the limited number of actors performing in the play. This notion was felt by all the audience, as indicated in the massive round of applause when the play ended!
“A moment difficult to portray was performed on stage with great skill from the actors”
The moments of sheer tension on stage captivated the audience, who sat in complete silence. A moment difficult to portray was performed on stage with great skill from the actors, and felt like being transported back into the novel, which was an amazing experience.
This adaptation of the legendary The Great Gatsby is a must see for any Fitzgerald fans out there, and this play can only make you love the novel even more! Even better, all proceeds for this performance went to Nottingham Life Cycle 6, a charity raising funds for breast cancer research. It comes highly recommended.
8/10 – Excellent, highly enjoyable
Image credits: Natalia Gonzalez