Time Out says
This immersive adaptation of the novel is a fun night out, if not great theatre
'The Great Gatsby' is now London’s longest running immersive theatre show, having played a variety of locations. This review is from its debut at the Waterloo Vaults in March 2017.
Who wouldn’t want to have a drink with Jay Gatsby? He’s charming and mysterious, and throws one hell of a party. The man is a hoot! But if you’re hoping to get intimate with F Scott Fitzgerald’s romantic hero – to really get stuck into his beautiful enveloping novel – then this immersive pastiche isn’t for you. This is a chance to get pissed with Gatsby and friends, but don’t expect any late night revelations.
Event company The Guild of Misrule have past form with immersive nights and it all feels polished and professional. And Alexander Wright’s show moves fluidly enough, as the cast subtly shepherd us from one play space to the next: a large dance area (Charleston anyone?), a pretty but pricey bar (who’s up for a £160 bottle of champers?) and a few smaller spaces for slightly more intimate encounters.
It’s all quite jolly, but the scenes – largely plucked directly from the novel – make little impact. Nick Carraway (Daniel Dingsdale) crawls over the bar and recites some of Fitzgerald’s most haunting prose, but no one’s really listening. Gatsby (Oliver Tilney, charmer) and Daisy (Amie Burns Walker) finally reunite, but we couldn’t give a fig. Poor Myrtle is killed, Tom spurned and Nick seduced but none of the moments – clipped and context-free – feel meaningful.
There’s none of the desperate heat, heart, longing and loneliness that swirls through Fitzgerald’s novel. A centrepiece of this year’s Vault Festival, the venue has been draped in gold tinsel and enthusiastically spruced up by designer Robert Readman, yet there’s no feeling of crazy, urgent excess. The actors are dressed in gorgeous period costumes but the roaring ’20s never quite roar (not helped by bursts of contemporary music). The most convincing component is the audience: dressed up to the nines, cheeky as hell and gloriously drunk.
Users say (39)
Average User Rating
3 / 5
- 5 star:11
- 4 star:9
- 3 star:2
- 2 star:0
- 1 star:15
By the time the interval came around, I knew this was the worst piece of theatre in London that I had ever seen and I was ready to go. I didn't manage to make it out however before my girlfriend slapped the actor playing Tom across the face in response to the comment she had made earlier. As the actor looked on in shock, I told him that he shouldn't humiliate audience members because it wasn't nice and rather than apologise decided to beckon me towards the door. We then left the theatre but as we left, we were given a stern talking to by the stage manager about not being allowed to do that. I responded by saying that if somebody had made similar comments in a real life setting that it would be a social norm for her to respond as such. She responded that this was an immersive production and that the actors were in character. However, I would also note that Tom Buchanan is a white supremacist and so how come he wasn't also making racist comments to the coloured members of the audience? In what part of the book is Tom Buchanan portrayed as an outspoken, inappropriate, classless, womaniser? When my girlfriend tried to complain to the company she was informed that they would "not enter into any conversation about the nature of immersive theatre and the fictional world of the play".
So let's get some things straight... Firstly, immersive theatre means involving the audience in the play and the world that it creates. Good immersive theatre should allow audience members to interact with the outcome of the piece (which goes out the window when you are told you can't speak while the actors are "because it's theatre"). Secondly, the Great Gatsby is set in an upper class American community, those characters are lavish, classy, extremely well-mannered and extremely polite. I didn't see any of that from any of the acting performances and so I can only assume that the director didn't actually read the book before deciding to put the play on. Thirdly (and this is most important) not even immersive theatre gives actors the right to humiliate their audience (especially given the £40 ticket prices [though we fortunately got them at a massive discount]). Theatre is made to not simply entertain but to empower and inspire individuals. Theatre has throughout history been the artform of the ordinary people so if I get humiliated for wearing a black button down shirt, gap shorts and birkenstocks, what happens if somebody from a working class background who has never been to a theatre before comes in not as well-dressed. Maybe you have to be drunk in order to fully appreciate this show (which explains why they have two open and very expensive bars ready throughout the show), however I am sure that even amongst the punters who did drink that there are plenty who will have left feeling insulted and mortified by the experience of seeing this show. I am just one of the only people brave enough to voice this perspective. If you are a lover of the Great Gatsby and all the wonderful imagery that this story creates, DO NOT GO TO SEE THIS PRODUCTION. F. Scott Fitzgerald is rolling in his grave that a theatre company would butcher a story that is so exquisitely yet subtly written.
Terrible. Horrible experience from the first minute. I paid over £70 expecting a west end show and was horrified to find out it was in a random garage in borough. They don't tell you the location until you have paid. Berated by one member for using the wrong entrance door and then mocked for not knowing a certain drink choice.Terrible American accents by sleazy actors. You have to actively take part in the show otherwise there is no show, constantly harassed by the actors rather than allowing you to sit back and enjoy. Felt completely uneasy about being pushed into taking part. I tried to sneak out unnoticed to avoid even more embarrassment only to be questioned aggressively by the security guard who had locked all the doors and there was no exit. I felt humiliated having to give a reason of why I was leaving. It was a birthday evening out, spent a lot of money, and I left 15 minutes into the 'show'. I would like my money back but I know this will not happen.
DON’T GO as they humiliate audiences who want go to the loo.
I had this horrible experience from visiting Great Gatsby last week.
During the show I felt my leg got cut by something sharp in the venue so I need to check it urgently. (here I need to declear that the play is party-ish so that everyone can drink and move around freely) I walked to the main door and ask the bouncer (african female, here just trying to make the image clearer) where is the loo. As she closed the and told me there are 15-20 mins to the interval and she wanted me to wait. I was like “ok,later than.” then when I walked away I felt pain from my legs. I couldn’t wait for that long if I was bleeding. There I saw other audiences went to the loo through her door as well.
So i came back to her, and surprisingly she warned me in a very brutal way: I told you, there are 15-20 mins to the interval, you can’t go now.
So I said, clearly, No. I’m feeling really uncomfortable, I have to goto the loo, now.
She seemed really unhappy for letting me out that she then :” Tut! Fuck. go now!”
I was so shocked. Why would a person get such a responses from giving a reasonable requirement? Isn’t it my right to goto the loo?
I didn’t know this is how Great Gatsby treating their audiences who wanna go to toilet. But what happened after was even more shocking:
After I came back the bouncer was still there holding the door (and there were other audiences going in front of me as they went to the loo!), I looked at bouncer because what she has done was extremely rude.
And then she pointed her finger on me, and threatening me ferociously and aggressively : “Don’t look at me that way, don't you ever try to be rude to me!”
I’m sure you would be as shocked as I was if you were there. As the show was going on, and there’s np point of arguing with her. So I went to the bar to reach a manager.
The manger turned up and I explained everything to him. He promised me he would take me to the bouncer and ask her to apologise after the show.
However when he approached to her apparently she was quite aggressive and said she did nothing wrong! Ironically herself even repeated stories, exactly like I did and the manager was there, the only reason she doesn’t want to apologise was because I looked at her when I got in! And she said she did do anything wrong from brutally stopping me going to the loo.
I don't know if this is racist thing or something because I saw other asians girls were stopped by that rude bouncer when they were trying to go to the loo. Not other people.
What more ridiculous is the manager said there’s nothing he could do with it, he could offer me a free drink (and I was about leaving that time). But this is nothing about drink, this is about how they humiliate their audiences in a very making no sense way. Sadly the show itself was great, well performance and good actors. their efforts are ruined by their dismissive attitudes of how they brutally treat their audiences.
In short: we had fun and are glad we went!
[To clarify – I am a man who loves good theatre. But I also like having a laugh with my friends. I thought of this evening a bit like a murder mystery….only we let the pros do most of the hard work.]
With this mindset, I did not get changed after work…yes ‘dressing up’ for a 1920’s themed evening is easy for a man. Suit & tie (chinos & jacket) is perfect. The girls in our group just wore a lacey top. There were folk there who’d made a big effort and bought into the evening. There were others who just arrived in jeans & t-shirt. My group were not dressing up geeks, but were up for a laugh so gave it a nod and got more out of it that way.
We always have to let our imagination go when we’re at the theatre – watching actors moving around a stage. Here – the whole building is the set/stage. And what an effort they have gone to. It looks great. With such a focus on a small, core of a cast, we - the audience – are the ‘extras’. Imagine being a group of actors where your extended cast changes every night…these guys work really, really hard. They improvise on the spot, working with who they’ve got and on what they say. The main character actors are genuinely really talented and work really, really hard – both physically and mentally.
So to those who have written negative reviews here – lighten up and stop taking yourself so seriously! With separation between stage & auditorium we’re forced to remember the cold facts of theatre: it’s all pretend! We’re all just suspending our believe and buying into the fun of the action. The main characters are jumping around in suits under bright lights. They did not touch us although there were a few girls clearly swooning every time Gatsby got close – we had great fun dancing – and some sat out…there’s enough folk to hide in the shadows if you want. Plus we kept topping ourselves up at the very reasonably priced bar so stayed merry throughout.
Another difference to ‘normal’ theatre was that the audience sometimes broke-off into different rooms so when I got split from my friends we had to discuss the different things we had seen and piece together the whole story. That again requires a HUGE amount of skill. There was no stage manager to ensure everything slotted together . The actors did it all themselves – timed it well and improvised to fit all of the segments together. The actors quickly suss out who is up for a laugh, and so we had occasional banter throughout. Those who just wanted to watch, just watched.
I would give 5stars for the acting and the set – the effort that has gone into this production is fantastic. To transform this building is fantastic. It took 7mins to walk from London Bridge station not including our stops to fuel-up at the various pubs..(For the negative review that spoke of a residential street – just get your directions right!) And addressing the man who spoke of peeking behind a curtain, this person clearly has never been backstage in a theatre. Often a curtain is all that separates the audience from the boring normaility of backstage hubbub. There are an awful lot of unrealistic reviews here. Acting is gritty. Theatre is story-telling. Rediscover your inner child – stop being boring and just lighten up….you have to because actually, despite all I have said, the production team & actors are let down by one thing…writing. Despite all their efforts, it’s not all that easy to follow what’s going on. Yes – it’s not high quality theatre. Ive been to really good immersive theatre where the effort was nowhere near as good as this. But here, the actors are let down by a rubbish writing.
In short: we had fun and are glad we went!
How anyone can find this experience enjoyable is frankly beyond me. The concept was there but the overall execution was wholey lacking. Audience direction around the lacklustre amateur set was haphazard and the story lacked any clarity and momentum between confusing scenes. The New York accents were variable meanwhile some performers most certainly overstepped the mark on 'audience interaction'. There is also one actor who was dreadfully stinky. Would not recommend unless you are a very up for it or totally hammered.
This is quite possibly the worst play I have ever seen. Confusing and absolute general carnage - people being pulled off everywhere.
Not to mention the actor playing Tom physical smelt and pressed himself against me 3 times and kissed me on which Was terribly uncomfortable.
It was unbelievably poor, we felt like we were on a forced shopping trip, marched from one side of a room to the other, forced to passively watch people shouting near incoherent drivel for little or no purpose, denying you the opportunity to be comfortable in the surroundings. The one side room we went in was overlong with the actor failing to achieve the spontaneity he was aiming for, bar was closed for most of the time, we left after about an hour, maybe we missed the main entertainment, but after losing some of my life there already I wasn't about to chance losing any more.
Having heard multiple positive reviews for this show I decided to head along, I could not have made a worse decision. On arrival at some sort of residential location I noticed a piece of paper stuck to a wall reading "Great Gatsby", not quite the West End style signage I'm accustomed to. To clarity this wasn't even laminated.
I decided to visit the little boys room before kick off and was greeted by an unusual curtain that on inspection was concealing a micro wave and some half eaten food products.
I was intrigued and excited at the start but needless to say this diminished within the first few minutes; a young fellow jumped off of a stage onto my new Hermés bag which I and on lookers found most distressing. Although an energetic monologue, the big reveal of Gatsbys hall was like walking in to a year 6 school disco - not the interior design you would expect from a todaytix endorsed production!
After a series of awkward herding around a number of rooms I was siphoned off with a group I have to admit I did not partially want to be seen with... I was pulled into a game of truth or dare where possibly the most abhorrent event of my life took place. I was lead into, believe it or not, having to kiss the actor portraying Tom, and trust me, no amount of Chanel no.5 has managed to extinguish the repugnant, lingering odor that was enforced onto me and clung to my blow dry for circa 5 days.
After the oddly timed interval break, I decided that the trauma thrust upon me within the past hour was far beyond what I would expect to endure for a theatrical event.
Worst show I have ever been to. Ticket is relatively cheap - costed me just 15 £. But the quality is bad, just atmosphere of bad pub, and entry cost of 15 £
If you are a fan of the book, the show may be really disappointing for you. From the performance, most of the actors/actresses may not be qualified-they didn't even believe in the story or the emotions they tried to pretend to have. The way they interacted with audience had no depth, just making the charactors looked so shallow.
I must say some of the scenes were beautifully set-however, you would not be allowed to see most of them. The staff/actors would "force" you to follow their instruction and stay where they wanted you to stay because the story line was awkwardly structured.
The Great Gatsby is such a great story. If you don't want to see it ruined, maybe have a think before you purchase the tickets.
Absolutely brilliant. Actors were fantastic as was the organisation, in fact the whole productions was top notch. i wasn't sure exactly what to expect but would be surprised if anyone wouldn't enjoy this wonderful evening. The actors gently invited the 'guests' around the space and whoever we were with, we always felt like we must have got the best side of the deal. Would highly recommend to anyone who likes to do something a bit different and have some fun :)
We were purchased two tickets to see any show in London by my boss for my Christmas present and we are so pleased that we chose this show.
I actually thought that it was just a normal stage show until the day before when I wanted to check the final details and location, that when we realised that some people dress up in true 1920s to feel part of the show.
So we packed up the pinstripe suit and pearls and off we set to London. We still weren't quite sure what to expect and were nervous incase we were the only ones to dress up. We got off the tube and weren't quite sure which direction to go but then we looked across the road and saw a group of around 14 all in trilby's and 1920s frocks so followed them.
As soon as you walked through the doors your instantly part of the show with the actors all mingling in with the audience at the bar and in the crowds. The character Myrtle came up to myself and my husband and asked our names and talked to us as if we in the 1920s with her. Then when ever we saw her throughout the night she called us by our names and introduced us to the other characters as if we were really there at Gatsbys party.
The way they have done this is super clever, on 3 occasions we taken off by different characters and shown a more intimate side of their lives which means that even if you went to see this 5 times you could have a totally different experience everytime. If you went with a group you could all have a different story to tell.
Your encouraged to dance and take part with even Rosy serving us at the bar. At least 70% of the audience took part and got dressed up which really made you feel part of it. The actors included everyone and tied to get you all involved staying in character throughout. The acting was great, we have not stopped talking about it since we left. It's the best show that we have ever seen and the first (but certainly not the last) that we have ever been part of. Already planning our next visit.
Well done to all the actors and can not wait to Charleston with you all again soon.
What an amazing show! I was completely blown away by this amazing theatre company! I would highly recommend this show to anybody that enjoys theatre and is willing to immerse themselves in the experience.
The actors were unbelievably talented - I danced, drunk, laughed, gasped and even cried alongside them as I was completely immersed in the story. The characters they played were completely believable.
I loved that every member of the audience experienced the story from their own individual perspective depending on the interactions they had with different actors. No two audience member's experiences would have been exactly the same so everybody would have had their own unique story to tell about their experience.
At the beginning of the show, audience members are told that if a character gives you an instruction or asks you to follow them - you go! You immerse yourself in the story because surely that is what immersive theatre is all about!!!!
It was such a shame that some audience members did not appear willing to immerse themselves in the story - it would only have dampened their enjoyment of the experience.
So if you enjoy theatre, dancing, singing, gin and think you'd enjoy immersing yourself into a classic story based in an incredibly cool 1920's setting..... this show is for you!
However... if you are more concerned about a posh venue and fancy toilets I would give it a miss.
Do not go! We left after 45 minutes due to the appalling treatment by the aggressive security staff.
I complained on the night to the duty floor manager and she said it was a known problem and could I write to the Gatsby theatre company, mentioning specifically which guards, so they could have proof to do something about it.
The company (when they eventually bothered to reply) replied with 'policy documents' that were absolutely over the top and never actually telling me what my friend did wrong - 'drunk and misbehaving' was their response. We had been there 45 minutes, he was not drunk and it was interactive/immersive theatre ........ um, go back to the stage if you don't want interaction (that you encouraged on the night)
They replied saying the security guards did nothing wrong, even though it sounds like they know there is a known, existing problem them. I was interested to see in many other reviews that other people also had problems with the guards. I did not get my money back and no detailed answer to what my friend actually did wrong - they get your money and now don't care. Disgraceful company.
Although an earnest production it just didn't work for me. Didn't capture the feeling of the novel and depended too much on gimmicks. Strong feeling that bits were missed as cast and audience went off at times, left you feeling left out, too focussed on the experience rather than a production. Really disappointed as I really wanted to like it. Well intended but missed the mark, don't think the venue helped. The guard is disgustingly rude and stuff didn't do anything about it. Horrible experience. You could find a lot more choices then goto this events for wasting your money,
I had an absolute BLAST at this. I have never read the book or seen the film, but this was the perfect way to get exposed to The Great Gatsby.
I had fun, I didn't think I would, in fact I kind of went in with an 'over it before it begins' attitude and completely turned around once the show started haha.
I highly recommend this show!
Looking at these reviews I'm surprised at how some people did not enjoy it. At first, I was worried about the idea of interacting with the actors and possibly having to dance, but I was immediately put at ease by the wonderful actors. The play was performed extremely well (Would recommend reading or watching The Great Gatsby before going as you may find it confusing).
As someone who does not enjoy dancing publicly, the actors who played Nick and Rosy Rosenthall were encouraging and soon had everyone on their feet getting involved.
The set was designed beautifully and had a great 'underground drugstore' feel to it. The separate rooms we were taken to were also well designed and the actors interacted with the audience the perfect amount. If you are someone who is offended easily or can't take a joke then this may not be the play for you as it is raunchy, and many jokes, including a game of truth or dare, will definitely leave you blushing. But I found being taken out of my comfort zone wonderful! (Plus the play is based around decadence and debauchery so what do you expect)
Make sure you dress for the occasion! There were many ladies and gentleman dressed wonderfully for our performance which added to the magic. If you don't dress up you will feel left out.
Would highly recommend everyone to go for a new and exciting experience, I would love to go again!
I wasn't told before hand that they don't except cash (only card) so couldn't purchase a drink! The ticket said strictly over 18's and there were children there(?) Wasn't asked to be followed so felt like I missed out on quite a lot and we all stood for 2hrs...my feet were very painful! I enjoyed dressing up but there were people there in converse and normal wear which kind of ruined the atmosphere! Dress up people!!!!!! It doesn't hurt! Fantastic actors/actresses...really couldn't fault them! Just wish I'd known what to expect and maybe I'd have enjoyed it more. Also they stop people from going to the loo... kinda wonder why????
Do not recommande only because the bouncer is horribly rude and threatening. I understand the 'speakeasy' (rear of a drugstore) aspect and it fitted in with the play. However, the toilets were disgraceful, men and women sharing the same cubicles and they were in need of a good clean. The play was brilliant and we thoroughly enjoyed the interactive nature.
We drunk, where whispered to by a breathy Daisy, my four friends dragged into a sideroom to play games with a lewd Tom and watched the tragedy unravel.
The play is architectural. The heart of the show is the large central room where the main scenes unfurl. There is always a busy majority here whilst small and always different groups of people are constantly being dragged away by different actors to a maze of tiny siderooms. The remainder never even think of what they are missing, whilst this central room lacks the intimacy of these little side groups, it is too full of fun and spectacle, dancing and singing. And also the knowledge that you too will also soon be grabbed of into one of these side plots. Each member of the audience will experience a completely different play, you will see and experience things that no-one else will, and they will see things that you don't.
A direct translation to play in the setting would never work, however paper thin walls in the maze allow normally completely separate events to co-exist and happen at the same time, shared out to these tiny rooms.
The novel being through the eyes of a voyeristic observer, Nick, is why the immersive nature of this theatrical piece works so well. We are the guests at a Gatsby Party. The strangers who turn up to dance and to be seen and to see. Where the films fail with disjointed voice overs of Nicks brilliant narration, Nick can simply address us the audience. There is simply no forth wall to break.
It was so extraordinary! Great art, great and enthralling act! I've been with the story so much and became a part of it. It is a must have for everybody young and old people.
With the right dress it will be a perfect adventure ;)
Please, please save yourself the embarrassment and ensure you wear formal dress to this event. Having won lottery tickets on the day of the show we were unaware that formal dress was required and - as stated by the user below - stood out like a sore thumb (think the Bridget Jones 'bunny girl' scene). 95% of those attending will have made a big effort so quite surprised that tickets are offered as part of the Today Tix daily lotto where you can be notified of a win just several hours before the show's start time. The woman who took our reservation insisted we sit at the back during performances so as not to take away from the atmosphere.. Later the actors asked audience members to stand in front of others who they felt had not made an effort to add to the embarrassment. We left before the show finished to avoid further mockery.
Not dressing formally tainted what would have been a wonderful experience of immersive theatre. I loved how the actors made you feel a part of the set, I would like to commend them all on their efforts. The set designs are wonderful too.
Definitely give it a try but - as I say - I would recommend you dress formally or don't go at all!
not normally a theatre kinda guy - but this is really good. actually feel like you're in Gatsbys world. 100% go again.
What an exciting experience! This show doesn't disappointed - highly recommended to anyone who loves theatre and gin.
This was a truly fantastic immersive experience. Such a good night out and brilliant acting! Will absolutely go again.
If you want to be physically assaulted, harrassed and generally feel uncomfortable for 3 hours then go ahead. The actor Tom Maller not only should've been sacked but should've been arrested for physically assaulting the audience members.
‘I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.’ The ‘Great Gatsby’ by the Immersive Ensamble is certainly large and most definitely not your average Friday night soirée. But how could it be, when your host is none other than hopeless romantic J. Gatsby?
Get ready to be dazzled and in the blink of eye leave 21st century London behind, as you dive into the 1920s jazz age. You may have travelled back to the days of prohibition, but fear not, at this fine venue, the champagne and gin are flowing and the night is ripe with mystery and promise.
You never quite know when you sign up to an immersive dinner or cinema experience at a secret London venue, whether the evening will live up to expectations or whether the experience will take the concept of ‘immersive’ one step too far. If you like a good party and a cute storyline with a hint of drama, romance and an enduring sense of hope, the Great Gatsby, will have you feeling at ease, entertained and emotionally engaged throughout the night.
Without giving too much away, expect to be treated like a special guest by Gatsby and his friends: sample the host’s own gin brew, take a Charleston lesson with Daisy herself (and of course immediately after show off your skills on the dancefloor). And while you’re at it, get some inside tips on how to build a successful business in post World War I America. Last but not least, you’ll have a front row seat for a very emotionally charged, bitter sweet love story that is bound to strike a chord with everyone in the audience.
Needless to say that there are many ingredients that make this play very different to a regular theatre outing. Perhaps its most striking feature is that depending on where you find yourself in the main venue at a certain point of the night, you will experience a different side of Fitzgerald’s novel. The characters break off to re-enact different scenes in the book and for each scene they take with them small groups from the audience. So if you go to see the play again, you may well end up discovering a new angle, a new room, a new side story that will delight in a very different way.
One day you may end up in Gatsby’s study, receiving tips on how to make a small fortune (I couldn’t possibly say more, Gatsby made us all swear not to reveal his secret). On a different day, you may end up in Daisy’s dressing room, helping her pick an outfit for the party. And while ripe with overlapping chapters which one cannot experience simultaneously, the play is cleverly designed such that the audience is always reunited for the momentous scenes of the novel. So do not worry, you will experience the full drama in the end.
The play is quite fast moving and has a few twists and turns, which may be confusing for those unfamiliar with Fitzgerald’s novel. Reading the book beforehand makes for an even more enjoyable experience.
The last lines of the novel capture the essence of Fitzgerald’s hero: inevitably rooted in his past, Gatsby strives to remain hopeful and make his dreams come true. Alas he does not succeed. But, the optimism remains even though the goal drifts ever further away:
‘Gatsby believed in the green light,’ writes Fitzgerald, ‘the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter- tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… And then one fine morning- So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.’
So once you’ve finished reading those lines, put on your dancing shoes, take out your inner dreamer and get ready to meet the Great J. Gatsby for a night to remember.