When Mr Gatsby invites you to one of his gala events, it’s a no-brainer that you’ll be attending. Music, dancing and the very best libations (in substantial quantities despite prohibition) are all to be expected, and of course, there is the guarantee of opulence. But perhaps for some, such an invitation provides a chance to experience something even more exciting – the course of true love. A man of mystery who keeps his cards close expects the same of his guests so there’s not much I can tell you about what awaits should you accept Mr Gatsby’s invitation, but I can assure you, to refuse would be a regrettable mistake of epic proportions.
When you arrive at Mr Gatsby’s drug store, his newest commercial venture, it’s not quite the atmosphere you’d expect from this notoriously extravagant host. That said, Mr Gatsby is full of surprises and one should not doubt his ability to entertain!
For those unfamiliar with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, the 1974, or 2013 film adaptations, The Great Gatsby is the story of mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and his quixotic passion for a young woman across the bay. Capturing the essence of the novel, this immersive production directed by Alexander Wright transports you back to the 1920s into a whirlwind of decadence, self-indulgence, passion and deceit. The audience are encouraged to dress the part and I strongly urge to you take heed of this. Between the flapper dresses, pinstripe suits, boas and pearls, the atmosphere is one of the strongest I have felt during an immersive performance and the audience, along with Phil Grainger’s stunning soundtrack, contribute significantly!
Designer Casey Jay Andrews has created an exceptional performance space. No detail has been left unconsidered and the utility of the layout is such that you genuinely feel as though you’re in a private home, overhearing things you shouldn’t through walls that are far too thin.
In contrast to other immersive performances, this piece is much more directed in terms of audience experience. There is less of an opportunity to explore and chose your own path, removing the feeling of voyeurism often experienced. The result is a personal interactive experience where the actors form close relationships with small groups of ‘guests’ on quite an intimate level. Expect to be whisked away for private chats or consulted for your opinion; whatever the opportunity, be sure to say yes!
Leading man Oliver Tilney embodies all the charm, charisma and magnetism one would expect to see from Jay Gatsby and is an exceptionally spontaneous performer, particularly during direct exchanges with ‘his guests’. Exuding ease and confidence, with a touch of disarming vulnerability, he is a compelling yet enigmatic host.
In the roles of Nick Carraway and Jordan Baker, Daniel Dingsdale and Holly Beasley-Garrigan are welcoming and engaging chaperones for the audience upon arrival, easing us into the event. Throughout the course of the evening, both strip back their initial façade to reveal honest and sincere characters with their own agendas, providing a depth and sense of reality in an otherwise idealistic and hedonistic world.
Louise Williams’ Daisy is grace and sophistication, a delight to encounter. Again, as seems to be a recurring process throughout the piece (and perhaps a motif in the original text), as the evening progresses she reveals a depth of emotion and sincere vulnerability that wins hearts all round.
A stunning take on a well-known classic, fans of the original text will not be disappointed and should embrace the opportunity to meet the characters they are so well acquainted with. For those who have not yet attended a Gatsby party, or been introduced to the man himself through literature, film or otherwise, fear not, there’s always a first time. Take a chance, old sport, and dive on in!
Review by Casandra Griffin
It’s the roaring twenties – an era of bootleg liquor, red hot jazz and hedonistic pleasures. Jay Gatsby has invited
you to one of his infamous parties and that’s not an invite you want to turn down. Step through Gatsby’s
drugstore and into a secret world where the cocktails flow, the music plays, and once the party is in full swing
there’s more than a chance of a little scandal.
In this heart-racing immersive adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald’s seminal jazz-age novel, you are in the heart of
the action. Guests are encouraged to pick out their best dress, dust off their tux, and watch as one of the greatest
stories of the 20th Century unfolds around you in this unique theatrical performance.
Presented by The Guild of Misrule, this smash hit production draws together creatives from Secret
Cinema, The Flanagan Collective and Belt up Theatre.
The Great Gatsby is directed by Alexander Wright with choreography by Holly Beasley-Garrigan, design by
Casey Andrews, lighting design by Rachel Sampley and sound design by Phil Grainger.
Based on the novel by F Scott Fitzgerald, it is created by Alexander Wright and and the Original Company (Holly
Beasley-Garrigan, Amie Burns Walker, Hannah Davies, Phil Grainger, Michael Lambourne, Thomas Maller, Oliver
Tilney). It is presented by The Guild of Misrule with general management by Hartshorn-Hook Productions.
The cast features Ollie Tilney (Jay Gatsby), Louise Williams (Daisy Buchanan), Thomas Maller (Tom Buchanan),
Dan Dingsdale (Nick Carraway), Holly Beasley-Garrigan (Jordan Baker), Veronica Hare (Myrtle Wilson), Phil
Grainger (George Wilson), alongside an ensemble including Jessica Guise, Toby Gordon and Max Krupski.
Box Office: www.OfficialGreatGatsby.com
Dress Code: 1920s glamour is encouraged; dancing shoes, sharp suits, pearls and spats.
Running time: The performance lasts 2 hours with the bar open until late.
Recommended for ages 16+