The Great Gatsby, Theatre Delicatessen, Sheffield.

Throughout the whole of December, Theatre Delicatessen in Sheffield will be putting on F. Scott Fitzgerald novel The Great Gatsby. We went along and thoroughly enjoyed it!

By Jane Howkins.

Over the next month or so, a production of The Great Gatsby is being performed at both Theatre Delicatessen in Sheffield and the York Theatre Royal. We popped along to the version performed in Sheffield and were pleasantly surprised at what we found.

We were expecting a typical performance in which the audience sits down and watches the action unfold on stage. What we got was something more similar to a murder mystery, with a great deal of interaction involved. Directed by Alexander Wright, the play involved the audience to the highest measure, with dancing, games, and ‘bootlegged’ liquor all being a big part of the event, and different rooms in the building providing alternative set pieces to that of the party created in the main room.

Whereas in the book (and subsequent films) Gatsby’s parties are not featured all the time, the party seemed to be ongoing, with key events from the book being acted out at the same time – perhaps standing as a metaphor for how much the actions and illicit activities of the roaring twenties  affected the lives of the American middle classes. This worked well for the most part, with different rooms around the building being set up in different styles for the action that was supposed to be going on in them, with Tom Buchanan’s city apartment being just one of those rooms. Most of the time groups of people were taken off into these rooms for this to happen, but near the end the whole group was escorted over to a room for the main characters to play a game of cards, which (whilst acted very well) fell short due to it being a small room and most of the audience not being able to get in to see what was happening.

The cast were all people from different theatre groups, with different actors featuring in the York production, however it was acted very well in Sheffield so the hope would be that this would carry on with the York cast as well. The only real issues that we found were that sometimes the time between the action set pieces was too long, and the music didn’t always fit the part. There were a couple of swing pieces played but the majority were modern electro-swing type tracks (the original big band songs would have been better), as well as some modern ones that sounded as if they were normal chart songs. This jarred a little with the theme and seemed almost as if they were pandering a little to the younger crowd, however if the vast majority of the audience were willing to dress in 1920s clothing then original music probably wouldn’t have put them off. Apart from this though, The Great Gatsby was still a fun show performed in a style that we would very much like to see again sometime!