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The Great Gatsby

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Simon Jessop marks his directorial debut in what proves a refreshing adaptation of this classic 1920s tale – after Baz Luhrmann’s flamboyant recent film portrayal, it’s a challenge for any director to bring something new to the table.

Taking the wheel of Peter Joucla’s stage adaptation, Jessop’s stripped-back depiction, with its highly inventive opening, works thanks to a real team effort. With no lavish Long Island decor distractions here, it’s the quality of the eight actors that dazzles instead.

When not in the limelight, the cast members create an authentic period atmosphere with some excellent musicianship; a moody saxophone, chilling clarinet or brooding bass supplementing the storytelling, while much of Gatsby’s world is left to the imagination of the audience.

When suave, cream-suited Sam Kordbacheh’s bachelor Jay Gatsby finally emerges after heightened anticipation, he’s just as enigmatic as rumoured. Good show, old sport.

Following on from her impressive Queen’s debut in Two and Two Make Sex, Ellie Rose Boswell, as Gatsby’s longtime love, captures Daisy Buchanan’s increasing emotional dilemma, deeply heartfelt in places.

If an era is epitomised in a character, Georgina Field’s Martini-sipping Myrtle Wilson offers accurate insight into a promiscuous period of excess and debauchery. The sober narrator Nick Carraway, who is everything Gatsby is not, is convincingly played by Callum Hughes.

If Queen’s stalwart Jessop’s directorial debut is the litmus test, then like one of Gatsby’s parties, roll on the next one.

Nick Dines

  • Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch
  • April 14-May 3
  • Author: F Scott Fitzgerald, adapted by Peter Joucla
  • Director: Simon Jessop
  • Producers: Cut to the Chase, Queen’s Theatre, Samuel French Limited
  • Cast: Ellie Rose Boswell, Georgina Field, Callum Hughes, Sam Kordbacheh, Sean Needham, Stuart Organ, Sam Pay, Alison Thea-Skot
  • Running time: 2hrs 15mins

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The Stage
The Stage is a British weekly newspaper and website covering the entertainment industry, and particularly theatre. It was founded in 1880. It contains news, reviews, opinion, features, and recruitment advertising.