‘We heard it from three people…so it must be true…’ Let’s take an iconic storyline, throw in some jazz, dancing, strobe lighting and Laura Bateman’s interpretation of a timeless classic, and we have New Theatre’s production of The Great Gatsby.
I have to admit, as I took my central seat in Trent’s Performing Arts Studio, I was overjoyed to see the iconic T.J Eckleberg’s glasses looming over us just as it looms over the Valley of Ashes in the novel. I’m not entirely sure what degree of magic these two wired discs held over me but I think it was something about their bleak vacancy that silently and cleverly enforced the underlying ‘surveillance’ message of Gatsby. This attention to detail was extremely wonderful to see.
“Tonight’s performance can only be described as one whirlwind of emotionally fraught action”
The opening of the play was truly astounding; I was truly mesmerised by the whole mechanical-clockwork actions of the cast that enabled each character to be defined and introduced by a familiar trait without speaking. The rigid mechanical repetition of the same movement, from Jordan (Becca Jones) pouring a drink, in time to Daisy applying makeup, in time to Tom smoking was a wonderfully unique and enthralling concept to watch which continued to build in intensity until each character had been introduced.
The performance can only be described as one whirlwind of emotionally fraught action, and one interspersed with highly original concepts that heightened the intimacy of the plot. I thoroughly enjoyed the personal insights in the silhouette confession box and interludes of sudden music and tailored dance routines which wonderfully encapsulated the spirit of the 20s. It was evident that through the medium of dance each character had the opportunity to release their inner emotions and thrive in the unique ‘Flapper’-esque period.
“Gatsby’s characters are vivacious beings and were acted with tangible ease tonight”
Individually, I commend each character on their sheer dedication to their character. Gatsby’s characters are vivacious beings and were acted with tangible ease tonight, bringing them alive from their inked pages much like vibrant phoenixes rising above the detestable, oppressive Valley of Ashes.
The sheer pretentiousness of Tom Buchanan (Harry Bradley) was wonderfully and flawlessly conveyed to the point where I did not believe I was watching a fellow student, but rather the adult Tom struggling to retain his archaic, prejudiced and rather disconcerting values he prized above his fidelity. The sheer emotional connection and interaction between Nick and Daisy (Nick Gill and Libby Boyd) was also particularly mesmerising to behold. I was entirely drawn into their emotional dynamic and pairing as they clearly conveyed the fraught struggle between attraction and Nick’s moral righteousness.
“The sheer pretentiousness of Tom Buchanan (Harry Bradley) was wonderfully and flawlessly conveyed”
Whilst Gatsby (Ben Standish) and Daisy were the focus tonight, for me it was the dynamics between Nick and Jordan that I am continuing to marvel at. Basically, I think I just fell in love with Nick tonight. I did. He stole the show. Nick Carraway was manifested on stage tonight; not Nick Gill. His air of genuine puzzlement, comical asides that included the audience and his intensely enthusiastic awareness of us truly grabbed me, giving me no choice but to be immersed into the eddying plot. He truly was a phenomenal narrative vehicle tonight.
I cannot resist, however, ending on Tom’s scorn of liberated women- ‘they meet all kinds of crazy fish.’ Yes indeed. It was clearly apparent tonight that the world was, is, and remains a place filled with crazy fish who swim through life with an uncontrollable impulse to either hurt or manipulate… Overall The Great Gatsby is a wonderful Fringe show, and everyone involved should be extremely proud of what they have achieved.
‘The Great Gatsby’ is running at Nottingham New Theatre until Monday 7th December, for more information see here.