Prepare for a swell party at Jay Gatsby’s Mansion at the Gate Theatre

This week in the theatre

The Great Gatsby at the Gate

The Great Gatsby at the Gate

 

The Great Gatsby Gate Theatre, Dublin Until Sep 16 7.30pm (Sat mat 2.30pm, Sun 4pm) Sold out gatetheatre.ie –  In The Great Gatsby, a riveting immersive production that sends F Scott Fitzgerald’s characters – major and minor – skittering throughout Jay Gatsby’s mansion, the boldest bit of casting may be that of his house. Played by the full expanse of the Gate Theatre, marvellously transformed in Ciarán Bagnall’s fastidious design, it hosts an audience sheaved into groups between its shimmering jazz bar, speakeasy, and several lush private rooms, where the narrative may slip and unwind. Director Alexander Wright’s free-range adaptation worries little that we will ever get the whole story, because, in this individualistic age of splintering narratives, it knows we never do. In Marty Rea’s charming performance, not even Nick Carraway, the novel’s dry narrator, can never give a clear account of himself while Paul Mescal makes Gatsby a butterfly of self-creation among an ensemble in constant motion. It falls to the audience, encouraged to arrive in 1920s costume, to do Carraway’s job and observe, safe in the knowledge that here there are no minor characters – not even them.

The Weir Lyric Theatre, Belfast Sep 5-30 7.45pm, £15-£24.50 lyrictheatre.co.uk _ “Ah now, you have to enjoy it. You have to relish the details of something like this, ha?” So says Jack, a regular patron of an isolated bar in Leitrim, early in Conor McPherson’s breakout play of 1997. That could also double as McPherson’s treatise on storytelling, a precocious skill that supplies the energy of this work, which is not technically a monologue play – in much the same way that a tomato is not technically a vegetable. Three male patrons and one bartender are joined by a single woman, Valerie, a Dubliner in search of “peace and quiet”, who has clearly come to the wrong place. The time is passed with well-rehearsed stories of fairy forts and apparitions, the vain swagger of a self-inflated property dealer, and a simple fellow who relays his tale like a fevered dream. Valerie, of course, is as rare and exotic in this bar as a glass of white wine, and she counters the men’s tall stories (always deflated as “only an old cod”) with her own personal, anguished narrative. Whether this carries the tang of truth, or simply seems like another playwright’s yarn, comes down to the spell of a good production. Director Andrew Flynn of Galway’s redoubtable Decadent Theatre has dramaturgical skills that any bartender might envy, always respecting to the ingredients, while serving them with a twist. PC

The Picture of Dorian Gray Viking Theatre, Clontarf, Dublin Aug 28-Sep 9 8pm €15 vikingthetredublin.com – “All art is quite useless,” wrote Oscar Wilde, approvingly, in the preface to his only novel. Even so, adapter and director Alice Coghlan is invigoratingly faithful to Wilde’s Gothic melodrama in any case. Dividing the novel’s prose neatly between three protagonists – the initially beatific Dorian, his besotted portraitist Basil Hallward, and his serpentine corruptor Lord Henry – all of whom share the narrator’s voice. One happy consequence is that Wilde’s familiar epigrams are treated fondly but without reverence. When Lord Henry suggests there is only one thing worse than being talked about, for instance, Basil finishes the witticism . . . Even he has heard it before. The near-erotic fascination the men have for the boy’s youth is laid on with contemporary knowingness though, with heavy echoes of Wilde’s own sexual double life. If Dorian leaves a fainter impression, it’s because Wilde’s beautiful, impressionable anti-hero is, at root, a compelling cipher. An empty picture frame says it all. Ultimately, Dorian is not a picture of evil, but a blank canvas for our own guilt, sins and desires.

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