The Great Gatsby is an immersive experience that encourages audience members to dress for the 1920s, partake of the bars open at various points during the performance and to interact with the characters and their story lines. There are party games, a sing a long and quick Charleston lesson for the audience to get involved with but at other times we are merely observers. The action moves through the audience, with the characters pushing their way through the crowd giving one the feeling of being a groundling at the Globe.
In places the show is frenetic, energetic and buoyant, providing the perfect atmosphere for a lavish party where there’s not a care in the world. At other times, the piece feels disjointed and confused leaving some of the audience perplexed and bewildered.
Audience members did, however, get their own unique perspective on the show. There were lots of individual interactions and asides to ensure no two audience members experience was the same. It was during these moments, and the use of the different spaces where the show felt its most immersive but I feel that immersion could have been pushed further.
Towards the end of the piece (running at 2 and a half hours, it’s a long time to be constantly on your feet) I felt that I was no longer immersed in the performance and I was simply watching events from an uncomfortable position. Due to this, I feel the show was around 20 – 30 minutes too long and would benefit from a little economy to ensure the audience stay onside.
In terms of the performances, the actors were consummate in maintaining their focus and adept at improv, demonstrating their solid grasp of their characters. The personal one-on-one moments felt authentic and really made the experience.
As a piece of theatre, I’m not too sure. The concept is great, the space is interesting and the actors very accomplished. What I think it needs is a reduced running time, further immersion and removal of the chaos which causes the confusion and it will be a splendid party in West Egg. That said, as a night out with a bit of fancy dress and a gin or two The Great Gatsby it is a fun and interesting way to spend an evening.
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