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The Great Gatsby | Grosvenor Park Open-Air Theatre

As part of this year’s summer theatre festival, Storyhouse Chester brings their production of ‘The Great Gatsby’ to Grosvenor Park Open-Air Theatre throughout August. Based on the well-known novel by F Scott Fitzgerald, we follow our protagonist Nick Carraway as he navigates a world of extravagance, impossible love, and tragedy.

Written by Deborah McAndrew and directed by Conrad Nelson, the story uses a mixture of narration with flashbacks. This is effective in allowing the story to unfold smoothly; however, the story seems to stagnate at certain points. There is a lack of opportunity for characters to develop chemistry which leads to an unbelievability of their desperate desires to be together. I would have loved to have seen this explored further to demonstrate the themes of impossible love and tragedy and allow the audience to truly understand the characters and their motives.

The Great Gatsby is a story of extravagance and luxurious tastes and whilst I appreciate that it is a production in an outdoor theatre, I do not feel like there was much consideration towards the set design and there were minimal props to move the story along or transport you to different places. For example, there was not much to suggest that we were in Gatsby’s lavish mansion apart from a couple of vases filled with yellow flowers, and it is only from the narration from our protagonist that we know of each location that we are in.

This production is set in the round and throughout the space is used really well. There is good use of blocking as cast members appear through different entrances and move around the audience. However, when the actors have their backs facing you, it can be difficult to hear what is being said, especially with all the noise distractions that come with being in an outdoor theatre. Whilst there are captions on each side of the stage, I think that microphones should be considered to avoid the audience being taken away from the action.

The musicality of this production is a real highlight. The jazz musical numbers really set the scene with the contribution of some lovely dance numbers, choreographed by Beverly Norris Edmunds. It was also impressive to see the actors themselves performing their own instruments on the musical numbers, demonstrating incredible talent with some cast members being able to play more than one instrument. There were also some lovely, harmonised singing performances which portrayed emotion and supported the tender moments of the play.

A standout performance comes from Laurie Jamieson, who plays Tom Buchanan, Daisy’s sly and controlling husband. It’s so entrancing to watch his character portrayal transport from feeling like he is in complete control to losing control. Jamieson demands your attention when he is on stage and perfectly encapsulates the tragic moments. Another standout performance comes from our protagonist, Nick Carraway (Thomas Cotran). Cotran is completely charismatic, likeable and does a great job of interacting with the audience throughout.

Grosvenor Park Open-Air Theatre creates a welcoming, entertaining evening for theatre fans in Chester and surrounding areas. With an incredibly talented cast and musicianship, it is the storyline and lack of set design that limits the lavish lifestyle of Gatsby and his peers. The Great Gatsby runs at Grosvenor Park Open-Air Theatre until 27th August. For more tickets and information, you can follow the link here.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review


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