Transformed into the Gatsby Mansion, the Dolphin Pub, Mold was an ideal setting for the immersive production ” The Great Gatsby.” I was fully prepared to take part ,down to my Mary Janes and headband. I knew, I would enjoy this type of performance but I wanted to get the perspective of someone who wouldn’t. So, I took my polar opposite friend. Her instructions to me were – “Don’t leave me on my own, don’t make me speak, sing or dance!” …… before the interval she was willingly charlestoning, singing and chatting to the cast and loved every second!
From the second you walk up to the Dolphin you are submerged into the 1920’s prohibition era. A nice unexpected twist on entering the building instantly sets the mood. Adding to the impression of a speakeasy a community cast working as door / bar men do an excellent job of getting you ready for the drama to come.
This style of theatre is a daring concept and an element of danger lies in having the audience play a major part of your play. The reason this production worked so well is due to the skill of the cast. I cannot praise all of cast members enough. They stayed in character for the full 2 hours and somehow spoke to every audience member, making them feel like they were at an elaborate house party.They even mingled in the interval. For my performance I was engaged with the three female characters (Myrtle played beautifully by Bethan Rose Young, Daisy, a wistful Amie Burns Walker, party girl Jordan, the engaging Zoe Hakin and George the talented Matthew Churcher). I could not pick a standout performance as all of the cast were outstanding.
Myrtle played by Bethan Rose Young and George played by Matthew Churcher.
I Myrtle played by Bethan Rose Young and George played by Matthew Churcher. entered the spirit and attended in 1920’s dress as did many of the audience but I wouldn’t say this was compulsory. It added to the set to be surrounded by all the costumes but those in normal clothes didn’t spoil the effect and they were just as immersed in the unfolding events as those of us dressed up. (We all learned how to Charleston and all sang along) However, this is an awesome production and I am glad we made the choice to do something different, it was certainly worth the effort!
Clever use of curtains, lighting and subtle props made the transition from pub to mansion. Cast encouraged audience members from room to room to move the play along. I found myself up and down stairs in an small group of 5 then 2:1 with Mrytle. The script and the flawless improvisation skills meant you could respond to the intimate sessions or not. The actors were skilled enough to ask direct questions that didn’t necessarily require answers. However, everyone became engrossed playing along, I was so immersed on Gatsby’s command I found myself running up the stairs after a distraught Daisy franticly calling her name!
At times I thought about what I was missing in the other rooms and wondered if I was missing a vital part of the play. However, as the play progressed I realised this was part of the charm. Every audience member was having a unique experience. The improvisation, the random interactions all added something individual for each audience member – no one will watch the same version of this play, ever. For that reason I anticipate audience will go back to watch again. Later chatting to my friend I discovered the things I watched upstairs were been retold downstairs, so nothing was missed. This just added to impressive nature of this production and the skills of the writer and director Alexander Wright.
If you love the theatre, the 1920’s, the Gatsby story or if you just fancy something a bit special this is a must see event. In a world of virtual reality and HD3D TV theatre has not changed – Sets have become more technical and adventurous but the idea of theatre hasn’t changed until now. This was Theatre for a virtual age, engaging all your senses and emotions beyond HD3D. Without doubt a 5 star production and a must see.
Follow the link below to book tickets … but be quick old sport they won’t be around for long.
Adapted and Directed by : Alexander Wright
Set Design and Costumes: Heledd Rees, Lighting : Ric Mountjoy
Reviewed : By Karis Clarke