It’s All Getting A Bit Gatsby

Reading & Writing, The Arts

F Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ carries a lot of thematic weight, from the collapse of the American Dream to the inequalities between rich and poor, but now it also has another burden – it’s come out of copyright, which means it’s available for reinterpretation.

There are currently FIVE Great Gatsby’s winging there way to you in London. One is, admittedly, the remade film by Baz Luhrmann (although I like Jack Clayton’s seventies version), but then there’s one on the King’s Head Theatre’s teensy wrong-end-of-a-telescope set in Islington, Lost Theatre’s production in Vauxhall, Wilton Music Hall’s sold-out immersive jazz-band version, and ‘Gatz’, the coming New York 8-hour production by the company Elevator Repair Service, which is meant to be fantastic.

I’m reminded of a similar situation when Gilbert & Sullivan came out of copyright in the seventies. Suddenly the country was awash with terrible productions, although a pair at Sadler’s Wells were brilliant, with The Mikado remained as Wedgwood figurines coming to life on a Victorian mantelpiece. One of the stranger reinventions were the rather lovely compilation book and animated musical movie by Ronald Searle, ‘Dick Deadeye’, with souped-up G&S ones and showgirls. I seem to have the album down the back of my shelves (of course).

4 comments on “It’s All Getting A Bit Gatsby”

  1. Gretta says:

    The back of your bookshelves is fast becoming a place of fascination and obsession. I feel any day now some lost tribe will come scampering out from behind your Beanos, shielding their eyes from the blinding light of your sparkling white surfaces and asking for directions and a drink of water.

    Jazz band Gatsby could work quite well. But then I like both jazz and Gatsby, so possibly I’m biased.

    That whole copyright thing, is that the reason why we got a million ‘new’ James Bond novels from various people, all of a sudden?

  2. Dan Terrell says:

    I have a feeling that the little folks of Truckers, by T. Prachett, have relocated back there. They were really in a bad way when the department store was torn down. However, their quietly getting across that white expanse of the public areas on the slick titles – in the London moonlight – might be tricky for them.
    I can’t think Bond’s out of copyright, the I. Flemming Estate has too much at stake with the films and really works at finding new authors to continue the series.

  3. Dan Terrell says:

    I’ve heard of “a few tricks up his sleeve”, but I think “down the back of my shelves” is a new one, but good. A Fowlerism.
    Since G&S could be a touch risque and in the spirit of the wonderful Ronald Searle, and his drawing above, here is a test-run -Dick Deadeye: “I say, matey, do ask one of the lovely ladies, if they might have change for a Doubloon down the back of their shelves.”

  4. Cathy Adamson says:

    I well remember the “Black Mikado” in the early Seventies, in a touring production at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh – it promised so much and, oh, did it not deliver……

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