Review: The Great Gatsby 

Our thoughts on the IRT's interpretation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic

click to enlarge ZACH ROSING
  • Zach Rosing

4 stars 


The opening night of the IRT's season came dressed for the part. Patrons were decked out in roaring '20s fringes and pearls to take photos in front of the '38 Cadillac parked out front. Cap it with a champagne toast and there isn't much else I would add on the PR production side.

The play is adapted by Simon Levy from F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel. Certain parts of the play require a prior knowledge of the book; but then again, if you haven't read the book already, call your alma mater and file a complaint. It should be on every high school reading list by now.

While most of the adaptation was strong representation of the book, the only real qualm I have was the amount of time spent on Nick and Jordan's fling. Time that would have been better served developing Gatsby into a weighty man of mystery.

The acting was outshone by Hillary Clemens, who played a Daisy with even more depth than she is given in the writing (which was plenty). Clemens is actually married to Matt Schwader (Jay Gatsby) which made for some extra passionate gazes across the stage. Schwader's Gatsby tapped into the crazed interpretation of a millionaire made with love, but the extravagance and Old-Sport-swagger was missed. Zach Kenney used the innocence of narrator Nick Caraway to his advantage. He seems to be a damn near perfect fit for this role, and is clearly the point of pride for director Peter Amster.

The most impressive part of the show was set. Details like the $900 worth of pastel shirts that fill Gatsby's closet and the multimedia backdrop help the intimate IRT stage capture the grandness that Fitzgerald is famous for detailing. A rotating belt on the stage allowed for seamless set changes and a small way to show off how well rehearsed the actors were in the space. I didn't catch one missing a step on or off of it. The only theatricality that could have been stronger were the costume changes for the male cast members. Clemens went through at least three in the first half, while Gatsby and Buchanan didn't change at all. I do understand that dresses are an easier costume change than a million shirt buttons. The music selection seemed stronger post intermission, but still could have tolerated another coat — after all it's the golden age of jazz we're talking about.

Running through Oct. 25.
Indiana Repertory Theatre, 140 W. Washington St., $20-$47, irtlive.com


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Emily Taylor

Emily Taylor

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Emily is the arts editor at NUVO, where she covers everything from visual art to comedy. In fact she is probably at a theater production right now. Before joining the ranks here, she worked for Indianapolis Monthly and Gannett. You can find her thoughts about Indy scattered throughout the NUVO arts section and... more

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