The opulence and splendor of the 1920s are gone. A world that was built on the chasm between high and low class has now fallen faster than stock prices in the crash of ’29. In this world, there are those who have managed to grip tightly to their riches to scrape by, and there are those willing to pull any scam to cheat their way to their next meal.
This is the world of Legacy: An Adaptation of the Great Gatsby, presented by Colliding Scopes, a theatre company devoted to modern productions of classic novels in a devised, site-specific setting. Legacy centers itself around the lives of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s quintessential characters, ten years after the death of the novel’s eponymous character.
In this conceptualization, we see how deeply the death of Gatsby has etched itself onto the lives of the main characters from the novel: Nick Caraway (Ben Sterlin), Daisy and Tom Buchanan (Emma Doedens and Jordan Dawson), and the ever-greedy Meyer Wolfsheim (Tess Richards). Everyone is in shambles. We also see the introduction of new characters that fans of the novel were not previously acquainted with: Pam Buchanan (Nikki Clydesdale), the now teenage daughter of Daisy, Tom, and the nosy reporter Jane Pollock (Morgan Anderson).
With the characters let loose among the audience for the first portion of the show, people unfamiliar with the novel and its characters are able to get caught up in the lives of the once illustrious and scandalous West Egg, whereas fans of the novel are able to play along with the characters, and even create their own. It’s a nice change, really, from typical theatre, where one is a spectator rather than a living and breathing part of the show. Personally, I felt like I a guest at one of Gatsby’s infamous parties.
Which brings me to Gatsby. Oh, Gatsby.
Much like its source text, Legacy nails down the character of Gatsby as a hopeless romantic who chased people as if they were dreams. His ephemeral life was spent longing after the wild Daisy Buchanan, who loved nothing more than to be chased. This is largely the source of conflict in the show, due to the lingering presence of Gatsby within the house even though it has been empty for a decade. As Pam says: “It’s a rotting corpse.” Legacy benefits from the small, powerful moments in which we see this conflict arise, further fracturing the small family. These are the moments in which the chemistry between Doedens, Dawson, and Clydesdale really becomes apparent.
Life, as the conflicts in Legacy make apparent, is never so easily resolved.
See Legacy: An Adaptation of the Great Gatsby in the Grey House (51 Bader Ln.) this Feb. 27th to Mar. 1st and Mar. 6th to 8th.
Nina Ricciarelli, Online Contributor
Photography: Tim Fort