Tonight I watched a 60 minute adaptation of The Great Gatsby from Talk is Free Theatre, the closing night of “Dinner a la Art”, presented virtually as a reading adapted & directed by Richard Ouzounian.
Ouzounian explained that TIFT Artistic Producer Arkady Spivak invited him to curate the series, which presented him with opportunities.
This little festival enticed the community with online performances to benefit restaurant and retail businesses of Simcoe County. The price of admission to any of the exclusive Dinner à la Art readings was a $30 minimum purchase from one of the local participating restaurants or retailers.
I hope we’ll see more such partnerships, businesses & artists working together.
In the introduction to the show, Ouzounian told us how the novel had become public domain, making it available for adaptations like this one. I was frankly astonished how well the story worked, although it helps that this is so familiar.
I’ve seen the two most recent film versions (of the four I’m aware of), each seeking to outdo the other for excessive glitter & glamour, a million miles away from the literary realm. But in the novel we’re watching Gatsby and his world through the eyes of Nick Carraway. As a story told by an observer, the minimalism of Zoom (or its equivalent) works unexpectedly well, especially when the cast is as strong as this one.
Eric McCormack brought a soft spoken vulnerability to the title role, a figure who might be a cipher recalling how different Robert Redford’s reading is from that of Leonardo DiCaprio (admittedly filtered by two very different takes on the novel).
Ouzounian uses McCormack’s face at times for a few poetic takes that are more romantic than cinematic. We’re invited to look across the water with Gatsby / McCormack.
Chilina Kennedy is a mercurial Daisy displaying a wide emotional range, a genuine star to match McCormack. Mike Nadajewski carries the load as Nick, skipping back and forth across the theoretical divide between narration and drama, effortlessly carrying the story, while reflecting upon the romance.
We live in interesting times, encouraging creative responses from our artists.