The Great Gatsby – Gate Theatre – Review
Until 16th September, 2017
Have you heard the story of Jay Gatbsy? We are introduced to the world of Gatsby through the eyes of Nick Carraway (Marty Rea), who has just moved into the area. He received an invite to a party in Gatsby’s mansion and is surprised by what he sees. It is a world of excess and glamour, but who is the mystery man behind it all?
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote Gatsby in 1925, it is seen as his magnum opus delving into the roaring 20s, a time just after the first world war where the United States was changing quickly. This production by the Guild of Misrule started life in London and received much praise during its run. The original adaptor & director Alexander Wright is at the helm once more, but there is a new cast of Irish actors. This is not a touring production, but something unique to Dublin.
The most impressive thing about the production is surely the set. There was talk that the Gate had ‘taken the seats out’ and indeed this is true, but it doesn’t begin to tell the story. The main theatre space has been completely transformed, with split levels, twin stair cases, a bar and a small dance floor. It is an attempt to recreate the opulence of the Gatsby mansion and it achieves its goal.
The main story line is told in the theatre space but you are often snatched away by the actors into side rooms, where you hear new tales. There is a large element of chance involved and each viewer’s experience will be unique. We get to meet the other people at Gatsby’s party. I spent some time with a young aspiring actress (Kate Gilmore) who is desperate to meet a famous theatre producer who is somewhere at the party. She was mentioned in a throw away line in the novel but her story is fleshed out here! There is also a side story of a shady gambling racket run by Wolfsheim (Owen Roe) who will surely get his comeuppence before the end of the evening.
There are a number of complicated dance scenes and much music of the era. If you haven’t read the book, I’d strongly recommend you do so before seeing the production. The story is a bit disjointed, especially as you don’t see all the events due to the various diversions. The book has also been compacted into one evening, which alters the pacing of the novel. It’s not a production that delivers a strict adaptation of the novel and is more an exploration of the Gatsby world.
The audience also deserve a mention, with some people going to great lengths with their costumes, and were barely discernible from the cast members! It really adds to the experience to get dressed up, so I’d strongly recommend you embrace it.
The Gate was founded in 1928, just three years after the novel was published. The early years of the theatre saw it put on experimental productions by Hilton Edwards and Micheál Mac Liammóir. In recent times it has become a bastion of a golden age, with productions by Wilde and Coward becoming the norm. This is a return to its roots, with something new and vibrant, with a touch of madness in the air. It’s a production you could visit more than once, to see different things and explore new elements of the sub plots.
Cast: Kate Gilmore, Mark Huberman, Gerard Kelly, Aoibhéann McCann, Charlene McKenna, Paul Mescal, Rachel O’Byrne, Marty Rea, Owen Roe, Raymond Scannell
Adaptor & Director: …………………………Alexander Wright
Set & Lighting Designer: …………………..Ciaran Bagnall
Costume Designer: ………………………….Peter O’Brien
Composer: ……………………………………..Isobel Waller-Bridge
Choreographer: ………………………………Muirne Bloomer
Associate Director: ………………………….Marc Atkinson