The Great Gatsby. Book by Linnie Reedman based on the novel by Scott Fitzgerald, music and lyrics by Joe Evans. The Little, Southwark Playhouse, Newington Causeway, London SE1 to 8 January 2022. . 3***. William Russell.

The Great Gatsby has been filmed countless times with varying degrees of success and Linnie Reedman s has been working on a musical version for some time – there have been previous productions with differences so this latest is presumably her definitive one. She has chosen to tell Fitzgerald’s tale as if it were Daisy Buchanan telling looking back in 1929 at what happened seven years earlier on the shores of that lake not her cousin Nick Carraway who has come to live on the lakeside near Daisy and her beastly rich unfaithful husband and been seduced by the lifestyle of their world and that of Gatsby, the mysterious man in the mansion across the water. Whether it is homosexual attraction or not is one of those things about the novel people argue about and Luke Bayer certainly plays him as very camp indeed but he disappears for long stretches of the show and his story is made little of in Reedman’s version Making it Daisy’s story is a mistake as it creates unnecessary confusion. The score by Joe Evans is fine but the sound system in the Little was dreadful the night I saw it and hardly any of his lyrics could be made out in spite of most of the songs being arias that get belted out regardless.
Part of the problem also is that suddenly the story shifts to Myrtle, the garage owner’s wife and Buchanan’s mistress, killed by a drunken Daisy driving Gatsby’s car and we seem to forget all about the others as she turns all tragic and has her own big moment. While he sings well Ross William Wild as Gatsby is lumbered with the most appalling clothes, especially the white double breasted suit with drainpipe pants in which he first appears so that he looks like an Elvis tribute band member who has come half dressed. Most of the other costumes are very handsome to look at, but what Gatsby gets is so out of period one want to close one’s eyes. A retired bootlegger he is filthy rich, throws parties for the wild set, none of whom he seems to know, and is madly in love with Daisy who, while besotted in turn. would never have gone near someone with that dress sense.
Jodie Steele makes an appealing Daisy, Bradley Clarkson a suitably brutish Tom Buchanan and Freddie Love dazzles in the underwritten role of Jordan, the callous socialite Nick gets involved with although not so as you would notice here. The production numbers are well danced, but the good six strong band might have sounded better in the Large rather than the Little as the sound here just bounces off the walls back at itself. Having a mirror floor may have seemed a brilliant idea given that there is no set as such but is actually another big mistake – when the lights hit it strange shadows are thrown up and naked limbs, of which they are quite a few on show, suddenly seem mottled as if everyone had been sitting too close for too long by the fire. It is not a good look. Truth to tell the Great Gatsby is not so great but it gets by on the enthusiasm of all involved.

Ash Weir: Catherine.
Bradley Clarkson: Tom Buchanan.
Freddie Love: Jordan Baker.
Jodie Steele: Daisy Buchanan.
Juan Lobo: George Wilson.
Julie Yammanee: Myrtle Wilson.
Luke Bayer: Nick Carraway.
Owen Mawdsley: Owl Eyes.
Robert Grose: Theadore Woolf.
Ross William Wild: Jay Gatsby.
Tristan Pegg: The Reporter.

Director: Linnie Reedman.
Composer: Joe Evans.
Orchestrations: Merry Brennan.
Musical Director: Victoria Calver.
Lighting: Dom Warwick.
Design: Isabella Van Braekel.
Costume: Belle Mundi.
Production Photography: Lidia Crisafulli.

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