Book by Linnie Reedman Music and Lyrics by Joe Evans
Adapted from The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald.
The Union Theatre to 30 April
204 Union Street, London SE1 0LX to 30 April 2016.
Tues-Sat 7.30pm. Mat Sat & Sun 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 30 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 0207 261 9876.
Review: William Russell 13 April.
Not so great Gatsby
This time round director Linnie Reedman has a new concept. She has decided to tell the story of the mysterious Jay Gatsby who gave parties attended by people he did not know at his Long Island mansion and worshiped the socialite butterfly, Daisy Buchanan who was married to a cad, through the eyes of Gatsby’s companion crime, the speakeasy owner Meyer Wolfshiem.
Gatsby, we discover, was a bootlegger, hence his cash. The novel about the Jazz Age partygoers tells it through the eyes of Nick Carraway, Daisy’s naïve cousin, a hick from the sticks. He earns a modest living in New York and is dazzled by the glamour of them all.
His disillusion, the discovery that really Daisy, the magnet for all men, is as shallow and selfish as her husband Tom and that Gatsby, far from being mysterious is just another guy in love who makes his wealth by devious means, is what the book is about. Getting Wolfshiem to tell the tale destroys the whole point of the book.
Last time round Reedman used music from the time. Now we have a neither here nor there score by Joe Evans, the cast all play musical instruments, when not overacting madly, to back him up at the piano, while the events unfold in what is supposed to be some kind of speakeasy. This means the audience is seated all round the place and the words get lost as nobody seems to know where to direct their lines.
Ms Reedman has been to the Union before, but seems not to have learnt how to cope with the limitations of the auditorium as people rush about frantically making whoopee and trying to evoke the period’s decadence. The costumes are pretty, the ensemble works hard, sometimes too hard, but of the leads only Kate Marlais as the society golfer Jordan Baker has the right sparkle and glamour required of the ultimately tawdry world Fitzgerald conjured up.
The story remains something best left on the page.
Stella: Emma Whittaker.
Nick Carraway: Blair Robertson.
Wolfshiem: Paul Dubois
Daisy Buchanan: Joanna Brown.
Jordan Baker: Kate Marlais.
Tom Buchanan: Zed Josef.
Myrtle Wilson: Ferne McCann.
George Wilson: James Rallison.
Catherine: Katie Brudent.
Lucille: Samantha Louise Clark.
Owl Eyes/Henri: Lewis Rae.
Jay Gatsby: Nicholas Fagerberg.
Reporter: Mark Townsend.
Director: Lennie Reedman.
Choreographer: Nick Park.
Musical Director: Barnaby Southgate.
Orchestrator: Tom Dennis.
Designer: Kelli White.
Lighting Design: Jack Weir.
Costume Supervisor: Natasha Karolik.