Review: Northern Ballet’ The Great Gatsby, New Theatre, Cardiff

Andy Howells visits Cardiff’s New Theatre to witness Northern Ballet’s presentation of The Great Gatsby.

Rekindled love, nostalgia, infidelity and ultimately murder are all ingredients of Northern Ballet’s presentation of The Great Gatsby, on stage this week at Cardiff’s New Theatre. An exciting presentation with plenty to thrill at, the beauty of this presentation is you don’t even need to know the story to follow it.

Directed and choreographed by David Nixon OBE, The Great Gatsby shares much in common with the silent film genre of the 1920s era its set in. It is strong on mime while conveying sensuality, fun and drama through choreography. Each member of the company is resplendent in the styles of Dapper sportsman or Flapper dancer along with servants and workers. Each member of the company playfully dallies with dance crazes of the roaring 20s including The Charleston and Fox-Trot, but with a clever precision never detracts from its beautifully paced ballet focused narrative.

The set twists and changes with the blink of an eye from the streets of New York (marvel at the companies fast paced steps akin to vintage newsreel footage) via Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s plush home, George Wilson’s bleak West Egg Garage to the grounds of the Gatsby Mansion and the Dock.

My favourite set was undoubtedly the room of mirrors in Gatsby’s mansion which saw some beautifully choreographed scenes from Joseph Taylor as Jay Gatsby and Abigail Pridames as his former love Daisy. While the focus of the scenes is no doubt the dancers themselves, the reflections the mirrors generate are evocative of the 1920s art nouveau legacy that re-emerged four decades later in psychedelia. The mirrors also switch to reliving the past for Gatsby in another beautifully choreographed sequence featuring multiple versions of himself and Daisy, performed by six further members of the company. This helps convey the strength of their love for each other, much to the disdain of Daisy’s husband Tom performed by Lorenzo Trosello.

I also loved the sequences featuring Riku Ito as George Wilson and Minju Kang as his wife, Myrtle. The bleakness of their marriage, destroyed by Myrtle’s infidelity with Tom reflected in the sparse surroundings of their garage.

There are many exceptional performances in this presentation from the ensemble cast but special mention must go to Beatrice Fisher for her adorable performance as Daisy’s daughter, Pammy who got a delightful audience reaction with each appearance!

The Great Gatsby’s climax is memorable, the beautiful choreography on the Dock to the song I Never Went Away before one final harrowing moment, which will resonate in my mind for years to come.

Northern Ballet’s presentation of The Great Gatsby should be renamed The Magnificent Gatsby! It’s certainly one of the most magnificent ballets I’ve witnessed to date!

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