'The Great Gatsby' review or 'What a swell party this is.'

The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
The Vault Festival, 27th January 2017
Written for Time Out 

Who wouldn’t want to have a drink with Jay Gatsby? He’s charming and mysterious, and throws one hell of a party. The man is a hoot! But if you’re hoping to get intimate with F Scott Fitzgerald’s romantic hero – to really get stuck into his beautiful enveloping novel – then this immersive pastiche isn’t for you. This is a chance to get pissed with Gatsby and friends, but don’t expect any late night revelations.
Event company The Guild of Misrule have past form with immersive nights and it all feels polished and professional. And Alexander Wright’s show moves fluidly enough, as the cast subtly shepherd us from one play space to the next: a large dance area (Charleston anyone?), a pretty but pricey bar (who’s up for a £160 bottle of champers?) and a few smaller spaces for slightly more intimate encounters.
It’s all quite jolly, but the scenes – largely plucked directly from the novel – make little impact. Nick Carraway (Daniel Dingsdale) crawls over the bar and recites some of Fitzgerald’s most haunting prose, but no one’s really listening. Gatsby (Oliver Tilney, charmer) and Daisy (Amie Burns Walker) finally reunite, but we couldn’t give a fig. Poor Myrtle is killed, Tom spurned and Nick seduced but none of the moments – clipped and context-free – feel meaningful.
There’s none of the desperate heat, heart, longing and loneliness that swirls through Fitzgerald’s novel. A centrepiece of this year’s Vault Festival, the venue has been draped in gold tinsel and enthusiastically spruced up by designer Robert Readman, yet there’s no feeling of crazy, urgent excess. The actors are dressed in gorgeous period costumes but the roaring ’20s never quite roar (not helped by bursts of contemporary music). The most convincing component is the audience: dressed up to the nines, cheeky as hell and gloriously drunk.