This weekend I continued my foray into a variety of theatre, and satisfied my thirst for all things twenties, by heading over to Greenwich Theatre for Blackeyed Theatre’s production of The Great Gatsby.
What was immediately noticeable on entering the auditorium was the striking minimalism of the set. Victoria Spearing‘s design manages to encapsulate every possible need and, in conjunction with Charlotte McClelland‘s lighting, transports the viewer with ease to the range of locations included in the story. In particular, the eyes of Dr T.J. Eckleburg hovering over the Valley of Ashes impressed me; haunting & almost menacing at times.
The play doesn’t stick to the same order of narrative as the book, however Stephen Sharkey‘s adaptation makes the story fit for a stage production using a company of seven actors. Starting with Daisy (then Fay, rather than Buchanan) pining for Gatsby and ending with Nick Carraway’s famous speech about the green light gives the show a real focus, and a satisfying conclusion. If you know the book, you’ll be aware that it’s narrated by Nick; this is incorporated into the show with the use of monologues & clever lighting.
Interspersing the dialogue with musical numbers – ingeniously arranged by MD Ellie Verkerk and played by a multi-instrumentalist cast – is inspired. It really adds to the atmosphere of the piece, allowing the story to move along and enhancing the emotion of certain moments. Celia Cruwys-Finnigan’s renditions of ‘Baby Won’t You Please Come Home’ are particularly affecting.
The cast is simply terrific.
Each actor takes one of the principal roles, with the rest of the characters being portrayed by the ensemble. There is a potential for this to get confusing or to be unrealistic, but the use of a range of costumes (beautifully designed by Jenny Little) and the cast’s talents makes it completely believable.
Stacey Ghent is entertainingly boisterous as Myrtle Wilson, alongside Tom Neill as a sneering George Wilson. Tristan Pate definitely captures Tom Buchanan’s domineering masculinity, which works wonderfully with Celia Cruwys-Finnigan’s troubled Daisy. Max Roll is brilliant as the enigmatic Gatsby, managing to bring out both his ardour & vulnerability. Nick Carraway is excellently portrayed by Adam Jowett; he keeps control as a narrator and is adept at injecting humour.
My standout performer is Celeste De Veazey, playing the irrepressible Jordan Baker. Her delivery is impeccable and she oozes 1920s cool – to top it all off she gets to wear the most stunning outfits. Definitely some of my favourites of the entire production.
My verdict? A beautiful production that’s high in both style and substance – a fitting tribute to Fitzgerald’s original text.
The Great Gatsby is on tour until Spring 2016. Tickets are available online & via individual box offices.