1. Ryan Hodson, Kristina McNamara
    Photograph: Viral Ventures/Aaron Lyon
  2. Aaron Robuck, Adam Di Martino, Sebastian Nelson
    Photograph: Viral Ventures/Aaron Lyon
  3. Hannah Raven, Jessica Redmayne
    Photograph: Viral Ventures/Aaron Lyon
  4. Hannah Raven, Ryan Hodson, Joshua Ralph McElroy, Jessica Redmayne, J.C. Peardon
    Photograph: Viral Ventures/Aaron Lyon
  5. J.C. Peardon, Ryan Hodson
    Photograph: Viral Ventures/Aaron Lyon
  6. Jessica Redmayne, J.C. Peardon
    Photograph: Viral Ventures/Aaron Lyon
  7. Joshua Ralph McElroy, Alicia Rose Quinn
    Photograph: Viral Ventures/Aaron Lyon
  8. The cast of THE GREAT GATSBY
    Photograph: Viral Ventures/Aaron Lyon
  • Theatre
  • Recommended


The Great Gatsby: An Immersive Theatrical Experience

4 out of 5 stars

Be beckoned into a sparkling world of jazz, extravagance, romance, betrayal and booze at this interactive show in Kings Cross


Time Out says

The former home of one of Kings Cross’s most popular bars is your conduit to be transported back to the roaring ’20s for this original immersive theatrical experience. Be beckoned into a sparkling world of jazz, extravagance, romance, betrayal and booze at this two-hour and 20-minute experience inspired by F Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel.

All three levels of the Wonderland Bar (formerly the teapot cocktail-slinging World Bar) have been gutted and glitzed up for this ambitious production, which takes the audience weaving through multiple rooms, hidden nooks and crannies, and even through the fire escape and a dark alleyway. Audiences are encouraged to get their flapper on with Gatsby-inspired costumes, but word to the wise – wear comfortable shoes. If you’re inclined to wear a pedometer of some kind, you may also get a kick out of counting how many steps you clock up as you traipse up and down stairs on this expedition. 

We would also advise rocking up with plenty of time for a pre-show tipple in the publicly accessible jazz bar draped with lush red velvet curtains, so that one might acclimatise to the atmosphere before stepping into two hours of non-stop immersive theatre. You might also want to have a bite to eat before you head into Potts Point – it gets late before you know it when you’re immersed in this world with a couple of drinks under your belt.

Directed by Beth Daly and written and produced with passion by Aaron Robuck, this is a proper play, broken up with intermittent burlesque and cabaret numbers, ballroom dance parties and a complimentary flute of bubbly, plus a spritz of audience interaction. 

The audience are voyeurs, peeking into the lives of a small group of folks living in the orbit of mysterious millionaire playboy Jay Gatsby (JC Peardon) during the jazz era on Long Island. However, it comes to light that the audience is also an extension of the first-person narrator, Nick Carraway (Ryan Hodson), who is caught up in the party lifestyles and debauchery of those around him. 

The script here is surprisingly robust. Carraway’s narration gives breathing room to appreciate the evocative imagery of Fitzgerald’s writing. The performers all hold their own with the acting chops – it is no small feat to maintain a convincing Long Island accent while trekking all those stairs – with Jessica Redmayne who portrays Daisy Buchanan, second-cousin to Nick and love interest to Gatsby, having a particular skill to hold emotion and incite whimsy. Most of the actors also offer something extra in the cabaret-like interludes, with neo-burlesque numbers from Lou P Scarlett (Alicia Rose Quinn) being a stand-out highlight. 

The production design, by performance artist and designer Brendan de la Hay, is expressive and bold and will definitely tempt plenty of selfies amongst visitors (but please, put your phone away when the action is happening). Expect ritzy ’20s-inspired moons, grouped chandeliers, a cloud-filled blue void, and some other aesthetically thrilling surprises. Much like the costumes, the set dressing takes inspiration from the jazz era but is not beholden to historical accuracy. The occasionally confusing costume changes are a match for the frenetic and inconsistent pacing of the show – there isn’t a linear path as the action charts its course through the multi-level, labyrinthine set. Some of the best mood-setting moments happen as the audience climbs up and down the staircase – when someone eerily sings an otherwise innocent song or a couple’s fight signals an impending disaster.

The Great Gatsby and its glamorous aesthetic got a boost in the public consciousness when the Baz Luhrmann-directed, Sydney-filmed movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio hit the silver screen in 2013. But when Fitzgerald’s novel entered the public domain at the stroke of 2021, all bets were off about what would come from creators who wouldn't need to seek permission to reinterpret the story. But here at least, the story seems to be in good hands. 

Produced by Immersive Theatre and Viral Ventures, the team who have brought Sydney experiences like Immersive Cinema, Karen’s Diner and The Wizard’s Den, this is their most pioneering undertaking yet. And with the backing of The Arts RISE Grants, they’ve pulled off something captivating. 

The Great Gatsby: An Immersive Theatrical Experience runs until June 26, 2022. Special performances will be announced that will be more physically accessible for audiences uncomfortable with stairs, etc. Book your tickets here.

Want more fun? Check out the best things to do in Sydney this week.


Opening hours:
Tue-Fri 7pm, Sat-Sun 2pm and 7pm
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