The Great Gatsby, Northern Ballet, Wednesday 15th May 2013 8pm, Sadler's Wells Theatre
Second Circle, Seat SG 3, £12 – side gallery chairs, restricted view. This is an excellent seat, not really restricted at all and much closer than the rest of the circle, I love sitting here.
I was at first excited and then terribly apprehensive about seeing the greatest book ever* made into a ballet and this was clearly always going to be an extraordinarily difficult job. However, it turned out that I needn't have fretted; a little coherence was lost towards the end, and one really needs to know the book, but I am surprised and delighted to say that the whole thing was a triumph. It is extremely faithful to the novel, even down to the episode of Daisy's hurt finger, and I appreciated the billowing white curtains of the Buchanan house (so redolent of Fitzgerald's surreal description) and the cleverly exhibited theme of time (as symbolic as it is within the novel). Only the characterisation is different; Nick was overly pleasant, Daisy apparently conscience-stricken, both she and Gatsby overly innocent, and Myrtle overly sweet but I suppose this is all interpretation and Daisy and Gatsby could easily be seen as victims. Jordan was entirely two-dimensional but I think cutting her storyline was a necessary and well-judged simplification (though having chosen to do it, they might have gone all the way and demoted her slightly in the bowing order). The music, dubitable on paper, worked amazingly well and I found the choreography really emotive and inventive, one adventurous pas de deux movement making my heart leap in terror! A little obvious perhaps, but that countered the confusion of the plot and gave a few moments of comedy that really worked. Contadini's one virtuosic solo at the first of Gatsby's parties was stunning and Mitchell, as Wilson, was superb – the clear, unanimous favourite of the audience. The sets and costumes were magnificent, save the one monstrosity of Young Daisy's outfit and I had been hoping that Gatsby's famous pink suit might make an appearance, and each and every member of the company gave very, very strong performances, skilfully translating from the multi-layered characters within the pages of the book to something more ballet-friendly without making it feel 'dumbed down'. It was interesting to feel some of the emotions which the book represses and the end was truly shocking – my neighbour audibly gasped! In the attempt to tie up the loose ends before the final image, there was perhaps a little romanticisation: can we really say Gatsby's dream is “realised”? That Tom and Daisy “are a family once again”? But maybe I'm taking issue with the programme notes more than the ballet itself. That was splendid, even for one who is so precious about Fitzgerald's masterpiece! I did not expect such faithfulness to the spirit of the original, or to be so approving of such a transposition. Really, really enjoyable. I loved it.
*officially, because I say so
And, because I am sure you're on tenterhooks wondering, I am much more approving of this curtain!
Add a comment...