Saturday, August 26, 2023

Immersive Gatsby

When I was in London last year, there was an immersive production of The Great Gatsby that I was interested in seeing. However, I had a lot of things to do, so I wasn't able to fit it into my schedule.

That's why I was happy when I heard the immersive adaptation of the classic novel was opening in New York. I was going to get tickets while it was in previews, but stuff happened, as it often does in life. I kept putting off going, but finally got to see it this afternoon.

Well, the show closes tomorrow, so I caught it just in time, and I'm very glad I did. Though I had my doubts, the production does a good job of telling the story while also integrating the audience at important moments. While key scenes take place in a main ballroom, audience members are also invited off into numerous side rooms, where some of the most interesting parts occur.

Mister Gatsby himself invited me and a number of other "potential investors" into his study for a "business proposal" and asked us questions about ourselves while also revealing some of his own secrets. Later he selected a smaller group of us, and after dodging questions from a nosey reporter, he took us back to a bedroom with stacks of his famous shirts.

The reporter showed up again in a scene in a darkroom where pictures were being developed. In another scene, Daisy invited us to play charades, and in another Myrtle started a game of truth or dare where certain truths about her relationship with Tom were revealed. The interactions with the audience felt just right, seeming natural, while the cast members were also ready to steer things in the direction they needed to go.

Other scenes were more traditional pieces of theatre, where we all watched either a key interaction from the book or listened to a character (usually Nick) provide narration in F. Scott Fitzgerald's immortal words. This made the show quite different from the immersive juggernaut Sleep No More which contains virtually no dialogue and is closer to a dance piece than a traditional play.

Of course, there's also plenty of dancing in The Great Gatsby, for both the performers and the audience. (I was pleased I got a chance to Charleston.) And there's lots of live music. It was a wonderful time, Old Sport!