What begins with a frustrated office worker (Scott Shepherd) with a frozen computer turns into a word for word enactment of the classic novel when he picks up a tattered paperback and gets sucked into the hedonistic world of the enigmatic Gatsby.
It’s all rather light-hearted at first, with his colleagues’ day to day routines jokily mirroring the text, but as the story unfolds and Shepherd becomes progressively more involved with the darkening tale that Midwesterner Nick has to tell, his co-workers become almost completely merged with the characters of the book – his beautiful, wealthy relative, Daisy Buchanan (Lucy Taylor), her swaggering, adulterous husband Tom (Robert Cucuzza), his mistress Myrtle, and, of course, the reinvented Jay Gatsby himself (inscrutable Jim Fletcher), Nick’s Long Island neighbour, with his shady past and extravagant parties.
Running at slightly over eight hours (including two short breaks and a dinner interval), John Collins’ production demands huge commitment on the part of both actors and audience. There are no opulent sets (just the grotty office) and barely a change in costume, but thanks to the power of Fitzgerald’s writing, Ben Williams’ evocative sound design and the growing depth of the performances, it isn’t too long before one is completely sucked into the careless glamour and desperation of a dying era.
Noel Coward, St. Martin’s Lane, WC2N 4AU
Tube | Leicester Square
Until 15th July
£37.50 – £77.50