Reviewed by Michaela Clement Hayes
Riverside Studios – 24th May 2013
The Great Gatsby is one of those stories that people love or hate, so undoubtedly the musical version will receive the same mixed reception.
Set in post-war America, Nick (Sid Phoenix) befriends his party animal neighbour Jay Gatsby (Michael Lindall), who discovers his long-lost love Daisy (Matilda Sturridge) has married someone else. In a time of new trends and passionate affairs, emotions run high with devastating consequences.
The production is lively and the cast are clearly enjoying themselves, which makes the play very watchable and enjoyable.
The acting is extremely high-quality and Sturridge’s wistful, girlish charm is perfectly complimented by the outgoing minx that is Jordan Baker (Imogen Daines).
Most of the accents were excellent, although Phoenix slips up occasionally and it seems as if a few characters forgot their lines at one point, but the pace and direction is generally good, even if Act Two did seem a little rushed.
The music (played impressively by various members of the cast) adds to the emotion and tension of the scenes, but the songs themselves are unnecessary and detract from what is in principle a good retelling of Fitzgerald’s story. the actors’ emotion is clearly expressed in the songs, but this doesn’t quite make up for the singing quality, which is nowhere as good as the acting.
Although I did enjoy the show, it would have been far better as a play, rather than a musical. The songs detracted from the performance and the story, replacing the emotional atmosphere with an almost farcical one.