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Gatsby review at Union Theatre, London – ‘slipshod and forgettable’

The cast of Gatsby at Union Theatre, London. Photo: Roy Tan The cast of Gatsby at Union Theatre, London. Photo: Roy Tan
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This musical version of F Scott Fitzgerald’s seminal novel The Great Gatsby began life as a chamber piece performed at the King’s Head in 2012. Since then, it seems to have lost its way and what was an interesting early draft has not improved with rewrites or larger stages.

Joe Evans’ score remains thin and things are not improved by Linnie Reedman’s often flabby direction. The dance routines are lacklustre and the design is so lacking in detail it might have been judicious to have foregone the period setting altogether. The casting is also a problem – there are a lot of average singers on stage. Barnaby Southgate’s musical direction must take some of the blame: notes are missed, lyrics are fudged and all too often the band drowns out the vocals.

No longer enigmatic, Nicolas Fagerberg’s Gatsby is simply dull and it’s very difficult to feel empathy for Joanna Brown’s interminable, feckless Daisy Buchanan. The Only Way is Essex’s Ferne McCann, in the role of Myrtle, can just about carry a tune although she struggles to create any kind of dramatic context, but in the greater scheme of things, her casting is the least of Gatsby’s problems.

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Flabby, slipshod, vocally underpowered and forgettably scored production of Fitzgerald’s classic novel