Rather than a traditional review, I felt compelled to write a list of the main areas, I felt needed to be thrust in the spotlight, regarding Ruby In The Dust’s GATSBY, currently showing at The Union Theatre until 30th April.
Ferne McCann is a revelation!
I was rather disappointed in the backlash in Ferne McCann’s casting in GATSBY when the news was announced. Most of all, because it was our own industry of journalists and performers bemoaning it. Well she certainly silenced her critics, with an assured, vivacious and commanding performance. Her singing voice had bluesy-soul tones aplenty and her physicality oozed authenticity, not to mention allure, that Myrtle would have possesed, to seduce Tom Buchanan (played impressively by Zed Josef) as her lover. I sincerely hope, this is the start of a new journey for Ferne McCann as an actress.
Instrumentation drowned out the vocalists
Yes that’s it in a nutshell. Although the instrumentation was sparse and not exactly of symphony orchestra proportions, it drowned out the sound of a lot of the singers, which was very frustrating, as there were some stunning voices in the cast, most notably Blair Robertson (Nick) and Joanna Brown (Daisy). Perhaps just the piano would have been sufficient, although saxophone and trumpet in particular add to the hedonistic party scene of the 1920’s.
I wanted MORE from Jay Gatsby
Call me a hopeless romantic, well you don’t have to do that, because that’s just evident , but I consider F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby to be one of the greatest love stories of the 20th century. It’s because of this belief, that I wanted so much more from Nicolas Fagerberg (or perhaps the director to get so much more from this character.) Gatsby needs charm and allure, to make you understand just why Daisy would be hopelessly in love with him and others to want to just be in his presence, apart from his fortune. Although, Fagerberg did portray the tortured sensitive side of Gatsby particularly well.
The Musical Numbers have potential
Yes, although often the songs in this show were not always clearly projected and drowned by the instrumentation, there were some promising numbers that emerged. The title song Ladder To The Stars, most notably, was haunting and was definitely a good note (no pun intended) to close the show on. I’ll Sing A Deathless Song is a touching piece, but it didn’t have the passion I wanted from Daisy and Gatsby, the chemistry just wasn’t there unfortunately.
I wanted to care about these characters.. but I sadly didn’t
Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I wanted to care about the fate of these characters in Linnie Reedman’s production. Ok, admittedly I felt sorry for Gatsby, but apart from him no one else really pulled my heartstrings. The show overall, has the ingredients to move, it just needs different execution and approach.