Immersive Gatsby
Venue: Gatsby's Mansion, Mayfair
Cast: James Lawrence, Elliot Liburd, Safeena Ladha, Alex Wingfield, Aimee Barrett, Steve McCourt, Jessica Hearn and Sophia Lewis 

Welcome back to the roaring twenties! Jay Gatsby invites you to one of his infamous parties. The champagne flows and as the drama unfolds the man himself will be the perfect host. As invites go, this is the hottest ticket in town. A hedonistic world of red hot rhythms, bootleg liquor and pure jazz age self-indulgence awaits. Dress to the nines and immerse yourself in this heart racing adaption of F Scott Fitzgerald’s seminal tale.

Immersive theatre is becoming increasingly popular, and after studying The Great Gatsby for my A-Levels over a decade ago, I was incredibly excited when I heard there was an immersive experience themed around the book. 

From the moment you enter the acclaimed, Gatsby's Mansion, it's as glamorous and extravagant as you'd imagine. I was surprised how many other guests had dressed up, like myself, and it definitely contributed to the atmosphere. If you book tickets to the show, I would highly recommend wearing something as glitz and glam as possible.

You're given a set of rules before you enter the main part of the mansion by Rosy Rosenthal, who was played by the wonderful Sophia Lewis, and then you're given permission to enter. Your 20's party officially begins. From Old Fashioned cocktails, to jazzy music and the most gorgeous outfits; I found myself transformed to that era almost immediately.

We're introduced to the cast gradually and the audience are given the chance to take to the dancefloor and learn the Charleston with the cast. Most of the audience chose to participate, but there was absolutely no pressure and it was a lot of fun, and really set the mood for the evening. 

If you're unfamiliar with the narrative, it focuses on the story of an elusive millionaire called Jay Gatsby. He had fallen in love in his youth with Daisy Buchanan, who is now married. He has his heart set on winning her back, no matter what it takes. Gatsby is throwing one of his extravagant parties, which is where we, the audience, find ourselves right in the heart of, in this immersive experience.

As someone who is very familiar with the story, I followed the storyline smoothly. However, throughout the two and a half hour show, you're split off into groups and enter different rooms. While this means that every time you visit the show you can experience something new, it also means that the story can feel a little disjointed if this is your first introduction to Gatsby. 

The smaller rooms you're taken off into as groups are perfectly themed, and intimate enough to make you feel as though you're really connecting with the characters, which is something I loved. Again, there was no pressure for any interaction with the cast, but it was welcomed if you were comfortable doing so.

You frequently meet back in the "nightclub" for major moments of the show, and there's some wonderful dance and vocal performances. My favourite being a touching dance number between Gatsby and Daisy. Their chemistry was undeniable, and they played the forbidden couple perfectly.

One thing's for sure, the cast is exemplary. There is no weak link and they all do such a fantastic job at including the audience in the storyline, and encouraging you to get involved. We were even able to help Daisy choose a dress for her tea with Gatsby, which was brilliant.

James Lawrence as Nick Carraway was the star of the show for me. He played the fumbling, nervous character of Nick incredibly well, and I felt myself compelled to follow whichever room he was headed to. The other standout performances for me were Safeena Ladha as Daisy, Jessica Hern as Jordan Baker and Aimee Barrett as Myrtle. What a group of sensationally cast women. Safeena and Aimee delivered heartfelt, moving performances. And Jessica was the life and soul of the party. 

The choreography is brilliant. The lighting and staging compliments the atmosphere, just as you'd hope. And it truly is a party to remember. One thing worth mentioning is that I have access needs, and when I arrived, there was no seating available. I was given a chair immediately, and the actors had then clearly been told of my needs because I was seamlessly given a seat in every room, which the actors intertwined within the story, which I thought was a lovely touch.

If you're looking for a fun night out and a reason to get dressed up, I'd highly recommend Immersive Gatsby. Whether you Charleston the night away, or enjoy from the shadows, there's something for everyone in this production. However, as this is an abridged version of the show - I'd perhaps do some research on the story before attending. Or book an extra visit or two to experience every room. Perhaps that's what I'll do...

Immersive Gatsby is currently running at Gatsby's Mansion in Mayfair. You can book tickets here.

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