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THE GREAT GATSBY presented by Cincinnati Shakespeare Company through Oct. 4. More information.
Now THAT is how you start a play! I really enjoyed how the energy of the opening scene exploded off the stage with the first light cue. It grabs your attention and immediately pulls you into the show.
As in the book, the character of Nick Carraway (played by Justin McCombs) also serves as the narrator. He gives a solid performance, but the character felt a bit restrained emotionally to me. Also, several times, in the transitions, McCombs seemed to rush into the special lighting without acknowledging the transition back into his role as narrator.
Sara Clark brings a unique energy to Daisy that I really enjoyed. The character seems to be always on the edge of an emotional cliff and Clark does an excellent job of portraying how her circumstances (and her refusal to actually make a decision to change those circumstances) push her closer to the edge.
Based on the physical description in the novel, Billy Chance would not be my first choice to cast as Tom Buchanan. In the role, Chance has a tendency to roll his shoulders forward and lean in at the waist, a posture that doesn’t evoke athlete to me. Better posture and a bit more of the “smaller guy on the team” swagger would help sell the character physically.
Kelly Mengelkoch also does solid work as Jordan Baker. The flashback scene between Jordan and Daisy was very strong and a favorite moment in the play. Jordan’s final scene with Nick was also handled very well.
From the stage, Jared Joplin doesn’t appear as a contemporary of the other performers which seems a little off. While Gatsby’s aloofness towards others is in character, I would have liked to see that facade fall away a bit more in the presence of Daisy and his other confidants.
The show includes strong supporting character work by Jeremy Dubin as Meyer Wolfsheim, Miranda McGee as Myrtle Wilson, Nicolas Rose as George Wilson. Also solid work from the ensemble.
For the most part, the video projections on the back walls worked well throughout the show. There was one scene in the first act when Daisy is looking out the window, the projection threw a shadow down her face that was distracting. The use of green lighting and the every present eyes were great visual references to the novel.
A nice idea in setting up the triangle tableau of the victims, but unfortunately with two bodies downstage on the floor, all three could not be seen by the majority of the audience.
Overall, a solid production with some really good moments. For me, the dynamic of the three male leads felt a bit off and was distracting at times.
My rating: 4 out of 5