Immersive Gatsby at Immersive LDN
At first glance the idea of an immersive The Great Gatsby sounds like a fantastic idea, and it does succeed on many fronts. Directed by Alexander Wright, the show features a lot of things that one would expect from a 20s party – a crash course in the Charleston, flashy outfits and a good selection of cocktails – and mixes them with a solid performance of F Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. It’s an interesting concept, fantastic for clubbers.
However, its downfall isn’t due any shortcomings of the cast or the venue, but from issues of the idea itself. It doesn’t serve well as a 20s party or club, since the play itself takes up two and a half hours, so really concentrating on taking in the 20s atmosphere is practically impossible; a couple of dance numbers and a ten-minute interval don’t change that. And the play suffers from audience members being moved around, interrupted frequently, and the odd fact that apparently Gatsby enjoys even his most private moments with loved ones surrounded by an audience of strangers. Any given audience is most likely going to enjoy a pure 20s party or a pure stage adaptation a lot more than a mix that serves neither purpose particularly well.
It also doesn’t help that the atmosphere of the era isn’t consistently maintained. It feels more like contemporary clubbing than a prohibition-age party: the cocktails aren’t particularly typical for that time, and the filler music is anything but typical 20s, aside from being too loud. Pity – as part of the plot, the musical numbers performed by the cast are fantastic and ooze the right vibes in a beautiful way.
Nevertheless, in and of itself, Immersive Gatsby is a reasonable adaptation, and it shines thanks to a strong cast. Lucinda Turner as Daisy, Steve McCourt as George Wilson and Aminita Francis as Myrtle Wilson especially deliver some moving performances in this rather abridged (despite its length) adaptation of the story.
All this coupled with an atmosphere complemented by Rachel Sampley’s powerful lighting and some amazing choreography by Holly Beasley-Garrigan adds up to a Gatsby adaptation that is almost really good – if only the concept itself weren’t so questionable.
Photos: Mark Senior
Immersive Gatsby is at Immersive LDN from 16th September until 16th January 2022. For further information or to book visit the show’s website here.
Watch a trailer for the show here: