Sunday, June 17, 2012

the great gatz

My post today may seem unnaturally short, but it's deceptive. It's not that I didn't do much today, it's just that I did one massive thing. And that thing was called GATZ.

Topher and I got up fairly early and joined a line of people queuing up to buy tickets for GATZ, which is a literal uncut reading of the entire novel of The Great Gatsby onstage. It's not for the faint of heart. It takes over eight hours. But we were feeling intrepid and we had a full day open, so we were in. So glad we were. What an experience.

I can't tell you much more about the show itself, except that it's set in a gloomy little office. A worker comes in, finds that his computer isn't working, and then stumbles across a paperback copy of Gatsby in his Rolodex. He begins to read the book out loud. As various employees enter the office that morning, they begin to assume the characters of the novel. By the end, at 10:45 pm, these office drones have completely become Nick, Daisy, Jordan, and everyone else on West Egg.

You would think this would get tedious. Yeah, sometimes it does. But mostly? I was completely focused. And I'm a notably squirmy audience member. There was just something hypnotic about listening to the entire novel at one sitting. Sort of like listening to a book on tape during a lengthy road trip. Except with the added bonus of clever staging, beautiful lighting, and innovative interpretations. It was exhausting and wonderful.

They did give us a two hour dinner break. Topher and I wandered around Covent Garden looking for an Indian place I love but never found it. So instead we hit up Pizza Express. We talked about our mutual love for the short stories J.D. Salinger's Glass family. Topher also bought some candy and snacked on it through the show. How he made a box of candy last eight hours I will never know. But when I told him that I kind of hate candy he seemed really shocked. "Do you hate pleasure?!" he asked incredulously.

In the end of the show you remember what there is to love about The Great Gatsby. Because I think we sort of forget it. It gets swallowed up in the angst of high school and the dreaded forms of Billy Budd and The Scarlet Letter. But it's truly the great American novel. Who knows what Baz Luhrman is about to do with it. But this was a creative, impactful way for me to be reintroduced to it. And even though it was a marathon, it was absolutely worth it. Topher and I came out of the theatre into a sprinkle of rain; full of fire and admiration of what we had just been a part of.
  • "It's a triumph. What thoroughness! What realism! Knew when to stop, too--didn't cut the pages. But what do you want? What do you expect?'" - 
    F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby