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The Great Gatsby Northern Ballet

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Designed with elegance and flair from top to toe, David Nixon’s ballet of F Scott Fitzgerald’s immortal novel transports us effortlessly into the 1920s. The selection of music by Richard Rodney Bennett makes a crucial contribution as it provides a score that is closer to a movie soundtrack in its variety and nuanced moods. The production has been rebalanced since I first saw it and the lost romance between Jay Gatsby Tobias Batley and Daisy Buchanan Martha Leebolt now catches fire in the intimate pas de deux dotted throughout. Kenneth Tindall’s Tom Buchanan remains the violent, centrifugal force at the heart of the piece, gripping Daisy’s wrists hard enough to hurt and hurling outside observer Nick Carraway Giuliano Contadini around like a rag doll.

Nixon’s narrative choreography is fast and economical; some scenes last no more than a few minutes. And he pulls out all the stops in the party scenes – from Buchanan’s alcohol-fuelled debauchery to Gatsby’s elegant soirees, he shifts groups around with a virtuoso velocity. The tango party is a particular delight and Nixon does not shy away from sequences of torrid sex – Tom and his mistress Myrtle Jessica Morgan put the shag into shagpile – or savage, unpredictable violence. The rising menace in the ‘confession’ scene between Gatsby, Daisy and Buchanan is heightened by Japanese-style percussion – an extraordinary sequence.

The company is on very good form and the ensemble is a collective joy. But with killer costumes like these, how could they not be?

  • New Victoria Theatre, Woking, then touring until April 28
  • September 23-27
  • Composer: Richard Rodney Bennett
  • Choreographer/artistic director: David Nixon
  • Design: Jerome Kaplan set, Tim Mitchell lighting, David Nixon costume
  • Technical: Andy Waddington/Steve Wilkins production managers, John Mills, Ian Robinson/Tony Brookes set construction
  • Cast includes: Giuliano Contadini, Jessica Morgan, Isaac Lee-Baker, Hannah Bateman, Martha Leebolt, Kenneth Tindall, Tobias Batley, Antoinette Brooks-Daw, Jeremy Curnier, Ava Mantell
  • Producer: Northern Ballet
  • Running time: 2hrs 45mins

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