Writer: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Adaptor: Stephen Sharkey
The Great Gatsby is one of the greatest novels ever written, with beautifully complex characters speaking beautifully flawless prose. Thankfully Stephen Sharkey’s adaptation for Blackeyed Theatre at least keeps the flawless prose.
In the novel, Nick’s narration frames his position as an outsider; he may live in West Egg but he does not belong there. On stage, the narration creates a sense of ownership and confidence which doesn’t quite fit with Nick’s character, especially towards the beginning of the play. Though very little character development happens at all for any of the characters; with even the death of Myrtle causing little ripple effect, except on Gatsby’s pool.
Where this production does succeed though, is in the electric performances of the supporting cast members. Celeste De Veazey’s Jordan Baker is perhaps the most stylish and period perfect performance, but Stacey Ghent and Tom Neill bring excellent touches of humour and excitement as various party goers and eccentrics (with Ghent managing to shine against all odds in an absolutely terrible wig)
The production relies on projections to set each scene, and some are more effective than others. The driving scenes move quickly and stylishly (except for the one scene in which they appeared to be driving in reverse the entire time) but the ‘confetti’ type projection used for both the Gatsby’s wild parties and the pouring rain seemed more reminiscent of the opening credits of a 90s children’s show that the roaring 20s.
The music, however, is period specific, played and sung live by the multi-talented cast it perfectly sets the time period – though often interrupts the action and confuses the characters. Would noted recluse Gatsby really be a song and dance man? We know he hosts wild parties, but none of his guests know him, he prefers to stay in the shadows waiting for his Daisy to return.
Although Blackeyed Theatre create an enjoyable enough evening, this adaptation loses the mystery, romance, and subtly of the original novel.
Runs until 10 October 2015 then continues to tour | Image:Alex-Harvey Brown