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).