By James Grayson (Twitter - @jamesAgrayson)
Jazzy and stylish, Northern Ballet’s production of The Great Gatsby is unforgettable. Whether you have been to Ballet before or not, you will love it.
It does have its negatives, but on the whole, The Great Gatsby is marvellous. Such as a production like this – something that has never been done before – was always going to be difficult, but the mysteriousness of Gatsby (Tobias Batley) is well portrayed. His opening appearance as a figure with his back-turned to the audience creates the sense of mystery.
The Great Gatsby also has spontaneity. An outbreak of the song When the Midnight Choo Choo in the Myrtle’s Apartment is a pleasant surprise and engages the audiences during a fast-paced Act One. Act Two does not match the pace of the first, but does really spring into life during the final 15 minutes as the audience is gripped by the finale.
However, to understand the performance, the audience needs to have at least a basic overview of the story. Because it is Ballet, it is not easy to work out which characters are which and who is in love with who? It is difficult to work out how Myrtle and George Wilson fit into the story unless you have prior knowledge.
How Gatsby made his money is told, but it is not obvious. Although the mystery men in long coats is a nice touch and does underline that Gatsby has a shady background. Why he is in love with Daisy (Martha Leebolt) cannot be explained in Ballet so adds another down point. Despite this, you grow to love Gatsby as he finds redemption and makes a real friend in Nick (Giuliano Contadini). And you feel the pain as the performance ends in tragedy.
But forgetting the few negatives, The Great Gatsby was fun and engaging. While certain things are unclear, the story is told well. But you have to have prior knowledge. The music is memorable and jazzy and the sets are magnificent and make you feel like you there. It is a production you would go and see again.
The Great Gatsby runs until Saturday 9th March at The Leeds Grand.