Writer: F Scott Fitzgerald
Adaptor/Director: Alexander Wright
Reviewer: Emma Boswell
F Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic novel, The Great Gatsby, has been transformed into a fully immersive theatre production, thanks to a joint venture between Theatre Clywd and Guide of Misrule.
From the moment audience members arrive at Mold’s disused Dolphin Hotel, greeted by bouncers with an American drawl and asked for a password, the fun begins. Stepping though the doors means transporting into the middle of a jazz, booze and glamour filled Gatsby party in the roaring twenties. This immediate absorption into Gatsby’s world then lasts until the end, making Mold High Street seem like a thousand miles away. The attention to detail is wonderful and the ability to transform this hotel into such a convincing setting is impressive.
All cast members are fully committed and contribute to making this scene a reality – circulating around, making small-talk with their new guests – who are slightly on edge at first. However, as drinks from the bar flow, the audience begin to find their feet and play their part. As the scenes begin to unfold, the real creativity of this piece begins to shine. Cast members guide their guests masterfully around the party, treating them to a delightful combination of high-energy interactions, audience-participation dance routines and beautiful solo musical numbers. On occasion, the crowd feels a little too large to get close to the action – some guests may be left in the background straining to hear or see.
It takes a little while for the storyline to take shape, perhaps leaving those unfamiliar with the book or film a little in the dark. However, as the production reaches the end of its first half, the storyline, characters and intricacies of the plot are well underway. Cast members whisk chosen audience members off to different rooms, giving them a sense of feeing ‘in the know’ and gaining an insider’s view as the story unfolds.
Some key performances to mention include Amie Burns Walker’s portrayal of Daisy – with a greater sense of relatability and vulnerability brought to the character than some may expect. Michael Lambourne, as Nick Carraway, works tirelessly in holding the production together, with plenty of audience interaction. The tense confrontation scene between Jake Ferretti (as Tom Buchanan) and Oliver Towse (as Jay Gatsby) is also very noteworthy – the jazz and booze-filled upbeat atmosphere is suddenly brought to an expectant silence; with baited breath as the scene unfolds.
For fans of the book (or the movie), this show is a must-see; connecting so intimately to these familiar characters will be a delight and the emotional scenes towards the end will feel touching and have an impact. However, for others, they will be left feeling a little unfulfilled and asking questions.
Runs until 25th March 2018 | Image: Contributed