Theatre review: The Great Gatsby

Posted: March 6, 2011 in Theatre & Event Reviews and Interviews

The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. adapted by Peter Terry. Directed by Luke Ellenbogen.  With Scott Sparrow, Emily Child, Andrew Laubscher, Kate Liquorish, Nicholas Pauling, Lucy Holgate, Adrian Collins, Mikkie-dené Le Roux, Kurt Haupt, Deborah Vieyra. Set and lighting design by Luke Ellenbogen. Musical direction by Kurt Haupt. Costume design by Emily Child.

At The Little Theatre until 18 February at 7:30pm. ASTRID STARK reviews

The Mechanicals have chosen a dip into the decadent and materialistic era of the 1920’s for the opening of their summer repertory season.  Virtually the full cast constitute the characters of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous book which has been adapted by Peter Terry.  The Mechanicals have set very high standard for themselves with previous productions such as the award-winning Decadence, Cosi, Endgame, Cowboy Mouth and more.   

The stage and costume design certainly steals the limelight on this production where the acting seems to have taken a bit of a back seat.  The costume and set designs are indulgent and wonderfully decadent.  Emily Child has captured the sensual and playful flapper style of the 20’s with her creations on stage.  The women are breathtakingly beautiful in full dress of the privileged, the callous and morally irresponsible wealthy American society of the time.  The men are equally dressed as pompous, materialistic, and dangerously attractive, megalomaniacs.

Fitzgerald’s story focuses in on a group of people living in the 1920’s, during the last few indulgent years before the Wall Street Crash, and the subsequent Great Depression and World War I.  People of the time were breaking with tradition and embracing new technology. The automobile became a symbol of status and power and the pursuit of pleasure through dancing and jazz music became a major pastime. 

Nick Carraway, played by Andrew Laubscher, narrates the story of the mysterious Great Gatsby who lives in a mansion and throws the most decadent parties to a bunch of materialistic and frivolous group of friends; the same ones who cannot wait to talk about him behind his back.  There are sordid affairs, drunken parties with fist fights, a hit and run incident, and a murder.  The Great Gatsby, played by Scott Sparrow, is obviously deeply unhappy and tormented despite the careful accumulation of his wealth.  Daisy, the object of his undying love, is married to a callous brute and trapped in a desperately unhappy marriage.  The story of a letter Daisy had received, and subsequently dropped into her bath dissolving the words, deepens the mystery.  Gatsby’s pursuit of the American Dream and the conflict between the classes are sub-plots of the main narrative.

Emily Child is beguiling to watch as the wanton and damaged Daisy.  Andrew Laubscher makes for an engaging Nick Carraway who is simultaneously horrified and fascinated by this group of people and their never ending shenanigans.   Scott Sparrow’s Gatsby’ feels a bit thin around the bone.  Although he looks dashing, he doesn’t seem to have that mysterious, darkly brooding and slightly unstable qualities about him that I imagined from Fitzgerald’s writing.

It looks as if a lot of time was spent on creating the look and feel for this production rather than allowing quite enough time for the actors to understand their characters and to fully grow into them. However, the comfortable and playful interaction between the regular members of the troupe is apparent, and as always, is enjoyable to watch.  

Kate Liquorish’s performance as a feisty and thoroughly modern woman of her time is outstanding.

Kurt Haupt on piano and Lucy Holgate’s beautiful singing provides a sensual backdrop for the activities on stage.  The stage and set design is excellent and innovative, especially considering that they are a self-funded organisation.


The Great Gatsby runs at The Little Theatre until 18 February 2011 with tickets costing R60 to R80 per person. Preliminary bookings are now open. Call 021 480 7128 or mail for scheduling and pre-bookings


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s