Theatre review: The Great Gatsby

 
Steve Dinneen
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THREE STARS
By Steve Dinneen

WILTON’S MUSIC Hall’s production of The Great Gatsby doesn’t start when the curtain goes up: as soon as you enter the building you are surrounded by Jay Gatsby’s peers, who mill around you, trying to sell you bootleg liquor or entice you into illicit gambling dens. It’s a brilliant, immersive start to the evening – and, in truth, probably the best bit, too.

The play starts with an a capella swing number – a device used throughout the play to represent the passage of time, and one that’s rolled out a little too often. For the first half, time passes rather slowly and the production struggles to carry the weight of Fitzgerald’s prose. The second half, though, fizzes into life. The ill-fated car ride, in particular, is impressively dramatic, while the finale is cleverly understated.

While the acting talent is solid – especially Nick Chambers as the earnest narrator – the music hall itself is the biggest draw, providing the ideal backdrop to the fading grandeur of Gatsby’s world.