The Great Gatsby at Greenwich Theatre
Often hailed as a modern classic, F Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic tale of 1920s excess has been adapted often for stage and screen on varying scales and budgets. Blackeyed Theatre are touring the first production of Stephen Sharkey’s new version, which uses a capsule cast of seven widely-talented actors to successfully convey the wild parties and social excitement of the story.
So soon after Baz Luhrman’s glittering, computer-enhanced Hollywood blockbuster, the audience are greeted with a self-consciously stripped-back set all in plain white. One of the few details is the geographical shape of Long Island, so that the implications of new money West Egg and old money East Egg literally loom over the entire production.
The musical accompaniment is a weaving of contemporary(ish) tunes, with all instruments played by the cast themselves. This lack of separation between characters and musicians is key to conveying the spirit of the roaring party scene and bolsters the sense of reactionary urgency to be carefree that characterised the post-war years.
Celia Cruwys-Finnigan, as Daisy, is a great mix of sweet and shallow, her vocal tone is beautiful and she has the courage to play the depths of the character’s flaws. Celeste de Veazey makes spiky Jordan Baker more appealing than expected, possibly aided by the depiction of her relationship with Nick. Stacey Ghent routinely steals focus throughout the show: whether as Myrtle Wilson or any number of background characters, her voice and sense of comedy are distracting (in a good way). However, the most impressive performance comes from Adam Jowett as he injects a youthful energy into Nick Carraway. As he rejects the Long Island world at the close of the play it comes from a sense of seeking fulfillment rather than a spirit of killjoy.
Fitzgerald’s style lends itself to quotation, and Sharkey has stayed faithful to the original text throughout. The result is a rewardingly rich entertainment experience for the audience.
The Great Gatsby is on at Greenwich Theatre until 10th October 2015, for further information or to book visit here.