The Great Gatsby

Another excellent production from Northern Ballet is on the bill at the Festival Theatre until Saturday night. Their 2013 tour features the World premiere of their new production, The Great Gatsby, based on the novel by F Scott Fitzgerald. There is something here for everyone, not just for ballet purists. The sets, storytelling and music are first class and the dance contains elements of diverse dances such as charleston and tango as well as classical ballet.

The story is set in the 1920s when the bright young things of the post war era were intent on pursuing the great American Dream. Jay Gatsby is the enigmatic host of extravagant parties in his grand mansion. Before the war he was a poor soldier in love with Daisy, who is now married with a child to Tom, a boorish and insensitive husband. Gatsby has now become rich through questionable means. He is obsessed with the memory of his love for Daisy and has idealised her. He gazes longingly across the bay to the house where she lives and dreams of their reunion. For a time it seems his dream may be realised – Daisy and Tom’s marriage is under strain and Tom has a mistress, Myrtle. However, reality intrudes literally with a crash.

The purity and lightness of the scenes featuring Gatsby and Daisy contrast sharply with the earthiness of the scenes of Tom and Myrtle

The score by Sir Richard Rodney Bennett perfectly evokes every aspect of the story, from the haunting strains of the dream sequences and love scenes to the use of actual songs and excerpts from film scores as well as some soulful sax and brass. The sets also fit the storyline perfectly – simple but effectively lit and reminiscent of a series of Edward Hopper paintings.
And of course, there are the dancers. The whole ensemble is excellent, showing energy and versatility as well as technical ability.

The production was met with rapturous and well deserved applause. Only two nights to go, get your tickets now, I highly recommend it.

Irene Brownlee