The Great Gatsby – Immersive LDN review: The most fun you can have in the West End09/29/2021
Immersive Gatsby: Trailer for return of immersive theatre show
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Despite the fact that F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby came out almost 100 years ago, it is still shockingly relevant to this day. Not a new observation, I’ll grant you, but certainly one that becomes exceedingly obvious when you attend the absolutely thrilling rendition of The Great Gatsby at the Immersive LDN studio. One part stage show, one part social experiment, going back out has never been this fun.
Get your tickets here.
The Immersive LDN performance of The Great Gatsby welcomes punters back into the roaring 20s on a night full of whimsy, wonder, love, heartbreak and – most of all – glamour.
Set within (and without) one of Jay Gatsby’s famous parties, attendees are greeted with sequins, spotlights and a glass of bubbly upon arrival before the real show begins.
Party guests act as flies on the wall to scenes from the iconic story of The Great Gatsby, while also having their opinions welcomed along the way by guests of the party – such as Jordan Baker (played by the wonderfully charismatic Jessica Hern, who had the room in the palm of her hand on multiple occasions).
Some pieces of the story are told behind closed doors, where select members of the audience are ushered by characters into a living room, or Gatsby’s study, or a corridor. Here, they divulge some of the story’s secrets – affairs, malevolent plans, etc.
Throughout both of these settings the character’s stories are made so much more special as the audience transcend directly into the narrative. Jay Gatsby might put his hand on your arm and, in a hushed tone, ask you for a favour (something you actually have to do); or perhaps Myrtle Wilson (played by the songbird Aminita Franchis) will privately beg for your secrecy when you spot her indulging in an affair.
It is these moments within the show that make the beautiful production so special, and unlike anything you have ever seen. Every single guest will have their own interaction with a member of the cast, sending them home with their own, unique story to tell their friends and family.
For example, during an early scene, I was stood next to Nick Carraway while he was having an argument with Tom Buchanan (played by the exceptional Jermaine Dominique). As Nick became more emotional I told him not to worry and urged him to ignore whatever nonsense the cad was spouting. He turned to me, put his hand on my shoulder, and thanked me for my kind words. It wasn’t part of the show, but it made me feel like I was actually at a party, trying to diffuse an argument between two rabble-rousers.
Later on, during a breakout session, my wife and I were gossiping about love affairs with Lucille (the enchanting Aimee Barrett) in the corner of the room while other guests played party games.
These intimate moments are astounding to not only witness, but also experience. And it truly must be experienced. These fleeting instances ensure every visit is completely unique and entirely compelling. They would also not be at all possible if it weren’t for the unbelievable cast and crew.
Jay Gatsby is played by the endlessly dapper Oliver Towse, whose mystique and decorum bled through his effortless performance of the billionaire playboy.
Although Gatsby is the centre of attention through a large portion of the show, Oliver confessed he relies on the audience more than one might think.
He told me: “It’s an art-form, it’s a different way of working, a different way of working with the audience. You can’t do this show without the audience.”
With that said, he added that “rehearsals are particularly difficult” without the 200 plus extra cast members around him.
“It’s an incredibly exciting way of working,” Oliver continued. “We just riff off the audience members which, as an actor, requires a very different skill.
“That’s what is so special about it all. At the heart of it… it’s about that one person’s night.”
However, Gatsby would be nothing without his muse, his reason for being, the woman whose voice is full of money: Daisy Buchanan. The Immersive LDN performance employs the powerful Lucinda Turner as Daisy in a performance that was not only show-stopping but commanding.
During one particularly emotional scene an audience member called out unwarranted, prompting Lucinda (in character) to silence them, before continuing her stunning monologue.
Between loud onlookers, Lucinda created the perfect rendition of “the one who got away” with a coy smile and a charming laugh; the backbone of the story sat firmly with Lucinda, no matter where you looked.
Lucinda also made her time on “stage” seem completely effortless; like she was just having fun with her evening.
“It’s just so rewarding,” she told me. “As a performer, I’ve never felt so immersed in something either, because you are literally running through two hours of someone else’s life and there’s not a moment, really, where you can come out of that.”
Lucinda continued: “It feels very real. It feels very exciting. You kind of start the show thinking: ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen this evening!'”
Every single member of the cast was impeccable at their job, but it would be remiss of me to not mention the star behind Nick Carraway, Hugh Stubbins. The story’s narrator brought the heart to the show, actually leaving us in tears at one point. A feat in of itself in a faux-party setting of 200 strangers.
There really is nothing quite like this version of The Great Gatsby. If you enjoy theatre, acting, romance, drama, excitement, and dressing up, you need to experienced Immersive LDN’s performance to believe it.
I hope you’ll join them next time, old sport.
Buy your tickets here.
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