Shauna Bradley and David Reale perform in the not exactly great Gatsby.
THE GREAT GATSBY adapted and directed by David Rotenberg (Classical Theatre Project). To Nov 1. $34. 416-882-4287. See Continuing.
In adapting The Great Gatsby for the stage, David Rotenberg (who also directs) remains so loyal to the novel that he leaves little out. Expanded party scenes and songs are delightful, but F. Scott Fitzgerald's concise text loses impact as a two-hour-and-45- minute play.
Narrator Nick Carraway, a man of modest financial means, tells this Jazz Age story about wealthy young Americans living the high life. Curiously, Rotenberg uses three actors as Nick (Wayne Ward, David Reale and Stephanie Belding), sometimes putting them all onstage at once. It's an interesting device, since they represent different aspects of the character, but it gets confusing because each actor also plays other roles. Reale's Nick is the most complex, best capturing the character's emotions and outsider status.
When Nick befriends his mysterious neighbour, Jay Gatsby (a dapper but dull Mark Wiebe), various affairs of the heart unfold, especially between Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan (Ingrid Bleckys, who doesn't radiate the allure of her literary counterpart). All the love affairs fall flat, largely because the characters voice their thoughts, feelings and actions as if reading stage directions - not very romantic.
The supporting cast is energetic and strong. Glen Gaston in particular creates five wonderfully distinct characters. And pianist/music director Charles Roy provides a steady, melodious heartbeat, with Belding crooning Tin Pan Alley hits in a voice that's as bubbly as a sloe gin fizz.
Presumably due to budget constraints, the lighting is utilitarian, props minimal and the stage bare, but without scenery they can't capture the essential opulence.
Fitzgerald took a few tries to write the original. With some editing and reworking, this Gatsby could also be great.