GATZ at the ART

When I heard about Gatz, I will admit I was concerned. The complete text of The Great Gatsby read aloud over two performances, Chapters 1-5 and 6-9. Six hours total. My memories of The Great Gatsby were distant (high school, almost 30 years ago) and tainted by the class assignments I remembered, like writing down all the color instances and what they meant. The colors in Gatsby are interesting, and thesis worthy, but when the main thing you remember is the green light and Myrtle's yellow dress it takes a little of the joy out of the work.

Nonetheless, I was committed (as a subscriber), I decided to make it a day long affair, starting at 3pm on a Saturday. I wore comfortable clothes, brought a shawl. I reread the book in the days before, and went in with an open mind.

A note about the book–it has made me consider rereading all high school reading lists. What a stunning book. Such beautiful prose. More Fitzgerald is on my TBR (to be read) list.

The play opens in a run down office, where our narrator can't turn his computer on, so he picks up a copy of The Great Gatsby and starts reading aloud. There isn't any other dialogue than that in the book. So the office workings keep happening around the narrator, but the context of who is who, and what they are doing is implied rather than stated. For the first half hour of the show, I was thinking "I don't know if I can do this". It sounded like an audio book. Then, suddenly, the janitor says one of Tom's lines, and we're off.

And it works. The reality of the office and Gatsby's world collide, but don't superimpose themselves. In other words, the janitor stays the janitor, but he is also Tom Buchanan. Nothing happens outside of the set of the office, but everything that happens in The Great Gatsby happens on stage including the big party scene, the car accident and the funeral.

An amazing, exhausting day at the ART. And Elevator Repair Service, and especially Scott Shephard, have a new fan.

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