“The Great Gatsby” faithfully dazzles

By: Meredith Francis ~Campus News Editor~

The Queen City’s own Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (CSC) recently premiered Simon Levy’s stage adaptation of the American novel “The Great Gatsby,” and the results are as
beautifully tragic as the novel itself.

Whether or not theatergoers are fans of the novel, CSC’s stage adaptation incorporates stunning artistic elements to shed a unique light on the story of Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan, breathing new life into a story that is now 89 years old.

Gatsby Cincy Shakes - rckny dot com
Jared Joplin (left) as Jay Gatsby and Sara Clark (right) as Daisy Buchanan

The show, which is directed by Brian Isaac Phillips, features a talented cast that digs deep into
the complicated characters. Jared Joplin plays Jay Gatsby, and brings to the role a complex, tortured performance that obsesses over his lost love Daisy Buchanan, played by Sara Clark.

These two roles are well-cast. Joplin conveys the mystery of Gatsby and his undying hope and
carries the confidence and bravado of his favorite phrase, “old sport.” Clark plays Daisy well,
successfully portraying Daisy’s fickleness and overbearing nature that leaves Gatsby, her husband Tom and the audience frustrated by her actions.

Arguably one of the most important roles of the show or any adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” is Nick Carraway – the narrator of the story and the conscience of the events. Justin McCombs gives a brilliant performance, portraying Nick’s naïvety, kindness and morality that perfectly contrast with the wild Jazz Age.

Other notable performances include Kelly Mengelkoch, who plays the perpetually cool Jordan Baker. Mengelkoch plays Baker confidently and humorously. Nicholas Rose plays George Wilson, and though his stage time is limited, Rose conveys the timidity and raw emotion of the character with ease.

At times the delivery of the story is hokey, yet it fits the over-the-top Jazz Age mentality where the parties seemingly never ended. It was also difficult to believe Gatsby’s lavish parties with such a small cast. However, they still brought the party-like energy to the stage.

The technical elements of the show beautifully enhance the story. The first act closes with the famous scene where Gatsby, Daisy and Nick throw Gatsby’s silk shirts around the room and as the lights fade, dozens of more shirts cleverly fall from the ceiling as if out of thin air. Many elements from the book are incorporated into the design, including Daisy’s green light, Gatsby’s cool yellow car and the famous cover design of the all-seeing spectacled eyes, which is strikingly projected onto the back wall.

The more passionate “Gatsby” fans will be pleased to know that the stage adaptation is remarkably faithful to the original text, with only minor details changed to fit the complexities of staging.

Even some of the memorable lines from the book are maintained, including the famous opening and closing lines, as well as Gatsby’s desperately hopeful line, “Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can.”

The show runs until Oct. 4 and tickets can be purchased online at cincyshakes.com.

Newswire Rating: