My friend had already raved about the Great Gatsby immersive experience and liked it enough to return so my hopes were high. It has been running for yonks now, becoming the flagship show of Colab Theatre’s event space after it moved there from The Vaults. I was excited and expectant.
And then I was not disappointed.
This is a truly immersive experience, where you play the role of an attendee at one of Gatsby’s famous parties and the setting is his house itself, allowing the storyline to unfold around you. You are not exactly free to roam, instead you are chaperoned around the set to watch certain parts of the action. Like real life, some of this is unfolding elsewhere while the group you’ve ended up in watches the scene in front of you, but at various points all groups come together for the main plot points.
You are kept in a speakeasy type area before the play begins and then called into the house where you get the chance to learn the Charleston and get your heart rate and adrenaline up by dancing around with the characters. Voila, you’re in Gatsby hedonism mode.
The set feels really big and warrenlike with a few different areas where the story takes place – the main hall, a separate parlour, the upstairs, and the production makes full use of it, ushering you around the different parts. I wouldn’t say the play was interactive per se but there were definitely some amusing moments of audience participation so there’s a tiny element of that.
I did wonder how they would manage the change of tone and setting in the denouement but it was expertly done – the move from frivolous and playful to dramatic and poignant didn’t feel jarring.
All of the actors I thought were incredible – gutsy, the right side of hammy for such a performance, and able to keep everyone engaged and feeling like they were a part of it.
I think they’re meant to finally be calling time on it in July and I would recommend going if you like immersive experiences.