The idea of immersive theatre triggered me slightly. I imagined I was about to become part of something slightly cringeworthy. You know the shows where they pick on an audience member and make jokes at their expense. I had experienced something similar at Uni when I was chosen to go up on stage to be “hypnotised” by a “magician” into taking my top off. A very different time.

This was thankfully nothing like that. No one was left cringing, even the girl who was chosen to be the pet dog took it well and gave a hearty “woof” on cue. With audience participation at a minimum we were transported back to the roaring twenties and an immersive experience inspired by F Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby.

The warehouse in Newstead, where the show is performed, has been transformed into a glitzy space spread over two floors, where the audience weave through multiple rooms and peek into Gatsby’s world. Weaving in and out of the lives of this group of Long Islanders, becoming part of the party and party to some of the less glamorous goings on.

We were warned about having to climb stairs and encouraged to choose sensible footwear but I find it hard to follow instructions and still opted for heels. I was happy to see other guests had done the same and we all survived, with some even opting to come in themed 20s style. Along with getting into the dancing and cocktails this was embraced.

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The standout performance was Nick Carroway (Michael Cameron), who breaks down the 4th wall and invites us to be voyeurs as we follow him into their debauched and boozy world. As the narrator he was present throughout the entire show, introducing us to the breathtakingly beautiful Daisy Buchanan (Alisha Rose) the feisty and grounded Jordan Baker (Hannah Raven) the deeply unlikeable Tom Buchanan (Joshua McElroy) who holds on to an impressive Long Island accent
throughout and finally to the dashingly mysterious Jay Gatsby (Rijen Laine).

The rest of the cast are simply stunning too and make it look easy staying in character despite the proximity to the audience and the need for random interactions. The evening is interspersed with two ballroom dance parties that we are invited to at Gatsby’s home. The burlesque performance elicited well-deserved cheers as did the cabaret reworking of songs from Sia, Lady Gaga and Green Day. The set is gorgeous and perfect for plenty of pictures and videos which are luckily encouraged. The 20s-inspired moon in the ballroom and the cloud-filled apartment are definitely insta-worthy and the cast are happy to oblige.

The night as a whole was fast paced and enchanting and I promise there will be little to cringe over and the only ones taking off their tops are the gorgeous cast.

The Great Gatsby: An Immersive Theatrical Experience is playing until December 18 2022. Book your tickets here.

Alex Hyndman-Hill

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