Review: The Great Gatsby at Djanogly Theatre


Just when you think you know Gatsby…

In a striking performance at the Lakeside Arts Centre on the heart of our campus, five actors managed to capture the intensity of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous story in a boldly original way. Interpretations of Gatsby so often focus on the extravagance of the jazz era that the complicated characters become lost amongst the music and dance. We only have to remember how over the top Baz Luhrmann’s film is to see this, Leonardo DiCaprio aside of course.

However, this performance, adapted and directed by Laura Jayne Bateman, moved away from this and took Gatsby back to basics. The tragic story of the poor soldier who made his millions to win back the heart of the girl he loved and lost was told in the most modest way. Staging and props reflected this stripped back interpretation, and were refreshingly minimalist but used exceptionally well. Within the audience we naturally focused on the characters and their emotional struggle rather than the time period; a very different experience of Gatsby!

Bateman’s adaptation also made interesting use of a single white screen behind which actors were cast in silhouette, a technique that was really effective in showing two scenes simultaneously and creating a sense of history in the play. Of course the costumes were incredible, after all who wouldn’t want to dress up in a sequined flapper dress?

One thing I would criticise however, is that some parts of the plot which are arguably very important were generally brushed over. It’s worth remembering though that’s to be expected in a student production such as this one, which must work under certain constraints!

It’s fair to say that I went into the theatre thinking I knew all about Gatsby, but this play showed me how naive I had been and revealed a completely new way of looking at the classic love story, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Edited by: Jess Greaney


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