Presented by: Independent Theatre Company.
Reviewed 3 September 2015
With a hit of jazz, booze, foxtrot, glitter, and the odd slice of adultery, any murder can be a work of art when Robert Croser flings it onto the stage.
This thrilling and inventive performance of The Great Gatsby builds upon the heart of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. Independent Theatre’s director Croser crafts his stage adaptation to become its own impressive incarnation of the dream become reality.
Fitzgerald’s iconic tale of excess, jazz, romance, and murder in the Roaring 1920s has been relentlessly adapted for almost every medium by the best in the business. Now as Croser deftly asserts his turn, the Golden Age comes alive with a youthful cast leading the way.
Maintaining the subtleties of the flirty classic, Croser’s performance showcases the poetry other remakes have lost. Rather than driven by the alluring fascination of the central figure and debonair bootlegger, Jay Gatsby, Will Cox’s Nick Carraway carries the show from opening line to final walk.
Against the backdrop of a minimalist art deco set, Nick threads the account together, eloquently filling in deeper points the audience may have missed. Not an easy balance between participant and narrator, Cox gives a standout job with wry side comments and a necessarily normal foundation amongst the fervent glamour.
The show reaches its peak in the confessional scenes between Gatsby and Carraway, where Lindsay Prodea comes to the fore as his refined debonair charm shifts to reveal the millionaire’s incorruptible fantasy. From a shadowy figure to the more vulnerable lover of wistful Southern Belle Daisy Buchanan (Madeleine Herd), Prodea effortlessly mirrors his legendary predecessors, Robert Redford and Leonardo DiCaprio.
The background characters necessarily fleet and flutter across the stage, accompanying Klipspringer’s masterful musical regales and his violently white suit. These period numbers, performed live by a dynamic and talented Ben Francis, underpin the complex tale with the fickle core of Fitzgerald’s timeline, with moving confrontations followed by an uncontrollable outburst of the Black Bottom.
The production design itself is a work of art. As the mood compellingly shifts from party vivacity to psychological drama, the hazy lighting and movement of actors illustrates the off-stage action in a glowingly inventive way. Interwoven with the dancing gaiety, death shocks the audience and tragically shatters disillusioned personas.
Croser has infectious fun with his theatrical adaptation to masterfully condense both the tragedy and frivolity in the timeless quest for the American Dream.
So go on then Old Sport, let’s misbehave!
Reviewed by Hannah Lally
Venue: Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: 3 – 12 September
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes (including interval)
Tickets: Adult: $38.30, Concession: $33.30, Student: $21.30, Groups 10+: ($30.00)