The Great Gatsby IMMERSIVe

Review: The Great Gatsby, IMMERSIVE | LDN

Review: The Great Gatsby, IMMERSIVE | LDN

If you want to have a night of fun – go!


It is really rather difficult not to like The Great Gatsby. The original novel is insanely malleable and filled with a dozen different themes, each ready to be explored in a full-blown stage show. At the same time, its distinctive 1920s setting lends every adaption its flamboyant flappers-and-sheiks style. And what a better show to immerse yourself in – to go back to the roaring twenties whilst living in, uhm, not-so-roaring twenties? 

Jay Gatsby loves Daisy Buchanan to the point of amassing a grand fortune to persuade her to divorce her abusive and cheating husband, Tom. All the while befriending Daisy’s cousin, Nick Carraway, who also serves as a narrator and who in turn falls in love with an accomplished golfer Jordan Baker. Tom’s lover, Myrtle, desperately wants to advance herself socially and so does her husband, George but their ideas on how to do so differ drastically. That’s the basic plot of The Great Gatsby. Naturally, it runs much deeper, cutting the delicate flesh of opulent appearances to reveal the rotting viscera of loneliness, decadence, and corruption. 

As far as enjoyable theatre goes, this adaptation ranks high. Really high. You’ve got everything – from Charleston dancing to exchanging mysterious deals with Gatsby’s accomplices to alcohol flowing freely in prohibition-era-inspired cocktails (my Californian friend rather enthusiastically insisted that we opt for gin as gin is “quintessentially prohibition era.” We did. Tasted much better than the infamous “bathtub gin”). Actors drag you towards secret rooms and hidden corridors to reveal mysteries of their heart, additional plot points or play games.  

All cast is doing a fine job. Safeena Ladha as Daisy is not only stunningly beautiful in her dazzling flapper attire but she indeed has, as Fitzgerald has described it, “voice … full of money.” The show most definitely portrays her on the more sympathetic side – as a hapless victim rather than cruel manipulator. Elliot Liburd rarely gets a chance to really shine as Gatsby – unless you’re fortunate enough to follow him around – but when he does, he really shines with an appealing mix of naivete and cynicism, of someone who will “will run faster, stretch out … arms farther” and someone who spent his life obsessing over the past. Nick’s role gets diminished – Greg Fossard however, is quite successful portraying him as intelligent, humorous and passionate. On the contrary, George Wilson’s role (amazing Steve McCourt) got significantly expanded to a great effect that reflects brilliantly on the show’s conclusion. Sophia Lewis as Myrtle (cover) was fantastic, too, oozing believable vulnerability yet married to real life much more than her upper-class counterparts.  

Where the problems pop up is in the show’s grand finale. To avoid any spoilers – the main twist of the final accident is revealed only to the group that at a certain point follows Gatsby – maybe 5 people altogether? It is not exactly necessary to know the twist to follow the plot but it is helpful in the deeper understanding of the story as a whole. It also falls a bit flat with the previous two hours being so upbeat and high energy, there is really not a silent moment when the final resolutions can fully resound. 

If you want to have a night of fun – go. It’s only on until January, and what can be a more fun way to spend a cold December night than a party at Gatsby’s mansion?  

Immersive LDN, until 7 January

Image: The Great Gatsby – 2022 Immersive LDN – Safeena Ladha as Daisy Buchanan – Photo by Mark Senior