In the crumbling interior of Wilton’s Music Hall a sumptuous, pleated backdrop lines the stage. It is there to reflect the glamour of 1920s Long Island, the grandeur of the houses and the curtains which float insouciantly in the breeze in Daisy and Tom’s mansion. Along with the audience’s feather headdresses and dandy cravats they set the scene nicely.
Later, this tone will be mocked by an a capella group but for now we are here in the house of the rich Buchanans and following Nick (Daisy Buchanan’s second cousin once removed) as he moves into unfashionable West Egg across the bay to be reunited with his old college friends.
The party revellers that eagerly fill Gatsby’s house each weekend are easily conjured up in this experiential The Great Gatsby by an audience dolled up in its 1920s best and eager to join in, whoop, cheer and be privy to the affairs and secrets of the mysterious Gatsby.
But despite great leads in the form of Nick Chambers with his expressive eyebrows and Vicki Campbell’s excellently dry Jordan, plus an amusing turn from Connor Byrne as Wolfsheim, the cast struggles to take the audience into the more sinister realms of The Great Gatsby.
The gaiety simply barrels along at one pace, giving the performance a slightly pantomime quality. The play’s climax even elicits laughter from the audience where it really shouldn’t, and there’s a certain heat lacking. It is difficult to believe in Gatsby and Daisy’s ill-fated romance.
This is a surprisingly faithful adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald's novel, text-wise at least: all the important scenes are there. But even despite all the jollity it occasionally falls a little flat.
-- Laura Tosney