The Great Gatsby opened in brand new location last month in the West End and we were invited to the Press night this month to experience the show first hand. We sent along our Theatre Reviewer and Immersive Theatre enthusiast James Stone to experience the 1920’s.
Tonight I am heading back in time – back to a time where the outift, status and style all the rage. The Great Gatsby Immersive event is opening this Friday at a new location in the West End venue of Immesive LDN and I was lucky enough to be one of the first to experience the show in its brand new venue.
You are welcomed by a hostess who really sets the scene – full flapper costume and New York accent. They set the rules and the boundaries of the night, so go easy on the moonshine! As you wait for the show to start you get a glimpse of tables and chairs behind curtains and there is a bar where you can get a drink – I highly recommend a Kentucky Mule.
The audience are invited to dress up in Jazz Age /1920’s style clothing so you are slightly wondering who might be the audience and who might be actors which really adds to the suspense and the whole ideology of the immersive experience.
The action kicks off when out of the audience the character of Nick Carraway introduces us to the story, he mingles amongst the audience. He is well played by James Lawrence and already sets the night and the events up to a strong start.
Other characters appear out of the audience and the curtains are pulled back to reveal a nightclub setting, including a waterfall and the presence of Jay Gatsby – since it’s last location, the set and surroundings have had a significant upgrade.
Pretty soon the cast are getting the audience involved in a Charleston and this sets the tone for the show – we’re here to party and everyone is invited! Some of the cast will come and talk to you to key you in on the action and who the characters are so you can keep track of the narrative.
At some points the audience divides by characters walking off to previously hidden parts of the building, if you see a crowd moving definitely follow, that is the key to this show. There are a few back rooms where scenes that flesh out the story take place, all well furnished and electro-swing music is always playing in the background.
Sometimes an actor will take one or two audience members with them but this is a nice extra if you can get it, not essential to your enjoyment of the show. If you stay in the main room you get the full story. However these little touches are really make the experience more personal and also make you feel like you have jumped right into the story.
The use of space is good – keep an eye on the bar…that is all I am going to say….
Whilst the immersive experience is good, there are however a few little strands that may becoming a bit irritating for the audience who wants to sully immerse themselves. Sometimes it’s hard to hear what the cast are saying as the audience are talking and there’s always music playing. I would say the best way to fully enjoy this evening is to have some knowledge of the source material as it will come in handy.
The Great Gatsby is not as fully immersive as a Punchdrunk show but the actors make sure to keep you involved with the action and you are free to move around the main bar space where most of the action takes place
Definitely recommend if you want to dress up and have a dance.
Rating: **** 4 Stars
Written by James Stone
To purchase tickets head to https://immersivegatsby.com/event/the-great-gatsby
Photo credit for feature photo Sam Taylor