Review of The Great Gatsby in Sheffield

The Great Gatsby, Northern Ballet, Sheffield Lyceum by Amy Stone

Based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story of love and longing, this ballet carries a weight of expectation: with such familiar characters and conflicts, how do you offer something new and original? The Great Gatsby tells the story of mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby, obsessed with his former love, the now-married Daisy. Daisy’s husband Tom is a rich playboy who is having an affair with Myrtle. Daisy and Gatbsy are eventually reunited by Daisy’s cousin Nick, and they rekindle their old romance. We see adulterous couples falter through their flawed lives, torn between worlds, culminating in a deadly denouement.

David Nixon certainly pulls off a beautiful spectacle, but does he manage to convey the intricacies of the novel? I am not convinced. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot to love about this production. The cast is terrific, with some stellar turns, such as Rachael Gillespie as a truly magnetic Myrtle and Harris Beattie’s moving portrayal of George. The Chanel-inspired suits are exquisite, if perhaps a little too understated for true flapper style. Conjunto dances are a real force, with several captivating group numbers drawing inspiration from popular dances of the day, including the Charleston and Argentine tango. Sir Richard Rodney Bennett’s score, performed by the Northern Ballet Sinfonia, brings the Jazz Age to life.

A few years ago, I saw Northern Ballet’s 1984 adaptation and was absolutely blown away, so I had high hopes for this one. Who would have thought that the Orwellian nightmare lends itself so much more to ballet than the glamor and glitz of Gatsby? I don’t, but I’m afraid that’s definitely the case. The staging is clever, but can be too subtle at times for anyone unfamiliar with the book. The storytelling is really sharp (excuse the pun) in some parts, but falls flat in others. In short, there are some amazing individual performances and some spectacular ensemble pieces, but overall, this adaptation of Fitzgerald’s cautionary tale about the American dream needs a little less delicate trimming and a seedier side.

Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️


Leave a Reply