Books Magazine

Gatz, a Full Length Reading of The Great Gatsby, Both Delights and Bores Critics

By Periscope @periscopepost

Scott Shepherd as the reader in Gatz

Scott Shepherd as the reader in Gatz. Photocredit: Publicity still

The background

Hot from New York, Gatz has hit the London stage. It’s a word-for-word staging of The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald (1926). It lasts eight hours, with three intervals, and is directed by John Collins as part of the Elevator Repair Service’s adaptation. It stars Scott Shepherd as a worker in an office who starts reading aloud the book he finds on his desk; Susi Sokol, Robert Cucuzza and Jim Fletcher also feature, as his fellow drones who take on roles from the book, which sees Nick Carraway entering into the louche and luxurious life of Jay Gatsby, and discusses the emptiness of the American Dream.

It runs at the Noel Coward Theatre till July 15.

It’s worth the numb bottom

It’s “jaunty, jazzily experimental,” said Dominic Cavendish in The Telegraph. It’s got “wit,” is “remarkable”, and more than pays off the numb bottom. The first half has “a wild gaiety”, and the “potency of the show’s double-life” takes over as it goes on, with the evening darkening into “unhappiness.”

It’s a triumph

The Arts Desk said it was “a triumph of great literature over the much fabled waning modern attention span.” It’s “uniquely engrossing.” Scott Shepherd’s performance is “extraordinary” – “all epic casualness and heroic ease.”

It’s an endurance test

Paul Taylor in The Independent wasn’t convinced, saying that the novel’s “ambivalence” was “divided between relentless slapstick” and the reader’s “infatuation.” The show is massively “over-hyped,” and only works towards the end. It’s basically “an endurance test.”

It’s transfixing

Michael Billington on The Guardian was more generous, saying it wasn’t “flawless but it’s memorable.” The company brilliantly evokes the book’s memorable scenes: “an atmosphere of drink, debauchery and violence is created through something as simple as the office-stationery being strewn wildly about the place.” The show is “transfixing.”

It’s done. #Gatz #GatzLondon – what an experience. The great American novel played out in real-time. Truly epic, and stimulating theater.

— Jake Orr (@jakeyoh) June 13, 2012

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