The Great Gatsby seems to be flavour of the month with recent stage adaptations, live book readings; the upcoming film and now the highly acclaimed Northern Ballet have presented a stunning dance interpretation of the famous novel.
If you don’t know the story: It’s the roaring 20’s on Long Island and newcomer Nick Carraway is intrigued by his millionaire neighbour, Jay Gatsby and the fashionable and lavish parties he throws. The jazz age is in full swing and drinking and dancing are becoming de-rigueur amongst high society. Unbeknownst to Nick, his married cousin Daisy had been courted by Gatsby prior to the war and as the two are re-united, Nick becomes drawn into a web of passion, obsession and deceit which ultimately ends in tragedy.
The plot is slightly complicated and a difficult story to convey in a production without words but for me, David Nixon pulled this off with aplomb in this spellbinding production. I’m maybe a poor judge as the novel is a favourite read of mine and I know the story off by heart, but for the less well initiated there’s a scene by scene guide in the program should you need it.
The production is a glamorous feast for the eyes and ears with beautiful cinematic music from the late Richard Rodney Bennett. The costumes are gorgeous, the dancers are edible and the versatile and inventive sets are lavish backdrops which become integral to the dances. Benjamin Mitchell and Kenneth Tindall danced with virile masculinity which was enough to make me wriggle in my seat and the skilled suave grace of movement of Martha Leebolt, Tobias Batley and Guilano Contadini was an absolute joy to watch.
There are some stunning set pieces including some highly skilled ensemble pieces and a series of beautiful duets. The dance between Nick, Daisy and Jay Gatsby at the end of Act I was a definite triumph of technical skill combined with passion. Northern Ballet has come up trumps with this unique and inventive production of a great American classic. Highly recommended.
The production originally opened in Leeds and is now running in Sheffield at The Lyceum until the 16th of March followed by a tour of the UK which ends at Sadler’s Wells in May.
Full tour dates and tickets available here: www.northernballet.com
Chris is a theatre and book obsessed Midlander who escaped to London. He’s usually to be found slumped in a seat in a darkened auditorium.