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The Great Gatsby (Tour - Sheffield)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Northern Ballet have set themselves a huge challenge: to find a visual language as rich and precise as the verbal language of F. Scott Fitzgerald's seminal novel about the simmering passions and nihilistic decadence of New York's 'roaring twenties'.

At times they strike gold, such as when Gatsby Tobias Batley duets with his younger self Jeremy Curnier in an arrestingly pure expression of loss, or George Wilson Benjamin Mitchell pours his devotions and frustrations into an agile and innovative routine with a tyre. Kenneth Tindall finds a strikingly graceful brutishness that is perfect for Tom Buchanan and Martha Leebolt's Daisy has the quality of fresh air.

What is inevitably lost is the filter of Carraway's knowing perspective on the story's unfolding events. This is not helped by Giuliano Contadini's characterisation of the role. Although a beautiful dancer, Contadini is too wide-eyed, too naïve to be Fitzgerald's complex, slow-thinking narrator; full of internal rules that act as breaks on his desires.

A design team, consisting of Jérôme Kaplan (set); David Nixon and Julie Anderson (costumes); and Tim Mitchell (lighting) create the perfect aesthetic, with the brittle gloss and glow of a Jack Vettriano painting. Sir Richard Rodney Bennett's eclectic score is interesting and evocative, though some of choreographer Nixon's attempts to blend the balletic form with the more vernacular dance styles of the Jazz Age are more effective than others.


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