“I don’t know whose idea it was to set the entire show in a dingy office and have the actors play workers who are sliding in and out of Gatsby roles as they go about their work day, but I think this concept adds nothing to the production. Far better that they’d just done Gatsby in an appropriate set or even with no set at all. This concept is a needless distraction that slows things down. And this is not a play that needs slowing down (the day I saw it, it ran 8.5 hours). I understand that the show is very specifically reproducing the entire novel, and I applaud it as an experiment, but I think it’s an experiment that isn’t a complete success. It’s a marathon show where I definitely felt the time pass, and I think it could be edited considerably. Not as a novel, mind you, but as a piece of physical theatre that an audience is sitting through, I thought this was a mostly impressive show that nevertheless didn’t entirely merit eight and a half hours of my time.”
“The play is eight hours from start to finish. Yes, eight hours but don’t worry it’s broken into 4 acts with 2 intermissions and a 75 minute dinner break. The evening, which I’d sit through again in a heartbeat, unfolds broadly as a journey from Fitzgerald’s prose to drama to ideas. Actor Scott Shepherd, who serves as our narrator Nick Carraway, gives nothing less than a tour de force performance of restraint and elegant storytelling as he moves from simply reading, to becoming engrossed within the story, and finally to leaving the book itself behind – in one of the most shocking transitions of the play. It’s glorious! Give yourself an early present and spend a whole day with a great story beautifully told.”
“This acclaimed production initially locates the action in a mid-1980s office replete with archaic technology machines that prompt lame business and stale jokes, as a worker drone picks up Fitzgerald’s volume and begins to recite. (Anachronistically, sound designer Ben Williams, who also assays a few roles, works his mixing board and laptop conspicuously stage right.) Indeed, for most of the first act, the company appears to be fighting against the action of the text, undercutting any semblance of illustrating it. The resulting meta-moments aren’t terribly inspired, and their alienation tends to mock the occasionally earnest fruitiness of the prose and certainly undermines its lyrical qualities.”
“It’s a prodigious theatrical feat, full of amusing acting turns and self-conscious directorial moments, but Gatz is finally most interesting and, yes, important, for the insight it provides into Fitzgerald’s text. The story of Jay Gatsby nee Jim Gatz is a satirical portrait of 20th-century America—all the more striking because though it was barely written two decades in, it got the century’s number big time—but it is first and foremost a satire, something adaptations bland (1949 with Alan Ladd) and floridly romantic/funereal (1974 with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow) totally missed. It’s easy to miss in a silent read, as well. But when read/performed aloud, and helmed by a director (John Collins) who knows how mordant-funny the tale really is, the novel’s genius is evident, maybe as never before.”
About the Author: COLIN MITCHELL: Actor/Writer/Director/Producer/Father, award-winning playwright and screenwriter, Broadway veteran, Marvel comics scribe, Van Morrison disciple, Zen-Catholic, a proud U.S. Army Brat conceived in Scotland and born in Frankfurt, Germany, currently living in Los Angeles and doing his best to piss off as many people as possible.