Dance review: Northern Ballet: The Great Gatsby - Edinburgh Festival Theatre

Martha Leebolt and Tobias Batley as Daisy and Gatsby
Martha Leebolt and Tobias Batley as Daisy and Gatsby
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Northern Ballet’s crowd-pleasing new show does almost everything it sets out to do. F Scott Fitzgerald’s 1920s novel The Great Gatsby has been lifted from the page and placed down stylishly on the stage.

Northern Ballet: The Great Gatsby - Edinburgh Festival Theatre

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For those familiar with the book, all the major players and key scenes are faithfully represented, and for those who aren’t, a plethora of big numbers and sensitive pas de deux are there to keep you entertained. So far, so good.

The show also scores points for aesthetics, planting the action squarely in early 20th-century opulence, where elegant furnishings and chic costumes give us a real sense of time and place.

What choreographer, David Nixon does with these high-society flappers and their beaux is also pleasing to the eye, with skilful jumps and jaunty unison in ample supply.

So why is The Great Gatsby less than the sum of its parts? Some of the blame has to lie at Fitzgerald’s door, for creating a novel so beautifully crafted, nothing could ever live up to it. The pick-and-mix score also works with varying degrees of success.

But it’s largely because much of this show operates on a surface level, leaving us feeling a little short-changed emotionally.

Three moments stand out, by either shooting straight to the heart or sending chills down the spine: Gatsby and Daisy’s powerful reunion after five years apart; Myrtle’s dramatic exit from the story; and the perfectly under-stated ending, devoid of melodrama and full of pathos.