The Great Gatsby

Brighton Fringe
28th May – 27th June, 2021

Sit up straight for a play to rock the ages. ‘The Great Gatsby’ book was adapted here by both the; Wardrobe Ensemble and Wardrobe Theatre. There was excitement lurking about this play as the curtains opened (metaphorically). We began with Nick Carraway (Jesse Meadows) narrating a mouth full of things. Set in the swinging 20s at the so called Jazz Age in New York’s famous Long Island it seemed an innocent time that dreaded its own future.

Gatsby himself (played by female Tamsin Hurtado Clarke) was a most mysterious man worth millions and he had everyone talking about him in one way or another. On a white couch sat Jesse Meadows as Carraway and our journey began.

As the spirit of every character entered our two actor’s bodies they were off with; spoken dialogue into a microphone of a cavalcade of social thoughts and setting dates for parties. And as we were fed the narratives and dialogue that were so often fruitful (they celebrated each new chapter with an alcoholic toast) but with plenty of dysfunction’s as well.

We were starting to notice the cogs in the wheel he was riding on, or was it all just rumours? We couldn’t have known and neither could they. It’s hard to imagine a more fought for story than this. In truth F Scott Fitzgeralds novel flopped in sales and interest but posthumously as we took in the twentieth century his powerful book exploded on the scene.

The touching clasp that was in this newly adapted play had for itself great use of their theatre. And the set was moved around or changed colour to the rhythm of the acts floating by. As each turn of the many conversations between lovers or acquaintances took hold the party hardened and we saw great emotions building up together with the story.

The life of Riley never comes for free except perhaps for our old sport Gatsby who joined us a little later in the play. They kept to the story with the force of dedication befitting the two art worlds of Wardrobe Ensemble and Wardrobe Theatre; with their venues and very lofty and necessary roles. They are seeking out with what they call “…new plays that dissect the twenty first century experience”. I’m sure that they were thrilled and jumped at the perfect opportunity of putting this show together.

In the story there was, love, relationships and a not too healthy, if enjoyable, dose of decadence that would turn to grief soon enough. The time out of time feeling from the original was here turned into a play of futuristic fabulousness as we mingled with the upper social classes. Who among them created problems but never owned up to them. And Gatsby’s position was always ready to inspire often when he wasn’t even there.

His love of Daisy Buchanan had him gravitating to her after losing her all those years ago, but couldn’t get her back. A fact that grew in the circles of socialites who crowded Gatsby’s social scene. In the name of parties were his best qualities known to them but the man’s love was overriding.

The strong American twang accents of New York were part of the action that often became very loud. Of our two actors placed in the scene like a model from yesterday, played as though it were only yesterday. Giving fresh life to the tale and offering up with great dialogue the passages of the story.

The action went on untold in loud music, frantic lights and involved the painting of eyes on large sheets of strong paper to throw a party. It was the time of their lives. And as Carraway admitted she longed for it to last but couldn’t see how, she was right.

Tragedy struck suddenly in a car accident caused by Gatsby. We saw tiny toy cars represent the incident. But soon Gatsby almost brushed it all out by blaming someone else. He somehow didn’t become despicable by our judgement. Instead we consoled him and let him off. Gatsby fortunes were explained to the exclamation of some who never quite trusted him. But his great love shone out in truth as he was not reconnected with Daisy who had long moved on. He didn’t seek revenge; instead he thought of partying but instead of that he passed away.

Carraway in his wisdom took on the responsibility as funeral organiser to his dismay no one came, it was the end. We simply were darkened and left to our own enthralled selves to think again about Gatsby and the kerfuffle he had caused. With a green light that shone across the bay, to his sweet heart and to great journeys ahead.

Daniel Donnelly

Watch: The Great Gatsby

Posted on June 11, 2021, in 2021. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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