Getting into the spirit of the Roaring 20s at The Great Gatsby's famous party
It’s a century since the original ‘Roaring Twenties’. The 1920s were a decade of optimism, celebration, exuberance and decadence after the hardships of the First World War. Women embraced the freedom of shorter hemlines and shorter hair, and jazz music became mainstream. In the USA Prohibition had started, adding the thrill of engaging in an illicit activity when partaking in an alcoholic beverage. It is against this backdrop that the fun of being invited to one of Jay Gatsby’s famous parties is to be experienced. How could you possibly resist?
But you don’t have to travel to New York to join the party; it’s been transposed to the West End of London. Immersive LDN now occupies three historic buildings previously controlled by the F (Rifles) Company Reserve regiment. These once contained a large drill hall at first floor level, an armoury, a firing range, stores, a mess hall and ancillary meeting rooms. Parts of these buildings have been transformed into Jay Gatsby’s Mansion for The Guild of Misrule’s critically acclaimed THE GREAT GATSBY, created and directed by Alexander Wright.
Guests are encouraged to get into the swing of things by dressing up for the occasion. The audience looked splendid in beaded and fringed dresses, strings of pearls, and feather boas, with the men donning sharp suits befitting of such a grand occasion.
Our evening started with dinner in none other than F. Scott-Fitzgerald’s study. He and his wife, Zelda, hosted us, and took us through the creative process of writing this novel; we even got to help chose the title.
The food is designed by Immersive LDN catering partners Flavourology with a menu that includes dishes inspired by The Great Gatsby: we enjoyed a starter of called ‘Bootleg Bourbon Salmon’ which was a delicate dish of bourbon cured salmon with celeriac puree and remoulade. Our main of glazed baked ham served with Waldorf salad, vermouth pickled grapes, and Louisiana fries (crisp roasted potatoes) was unusual and delicious. I found the dessert a bit of an odd combination but Alex loved it, a pudding of spotted dick under a white chocolate dome with custard parfait and salted caramel source ‘Gatsby was an Oxford Man’ (all courses have vegan alternatives available). It certainly got the evening off to the right tone, and put us straight into the immersive experience. Pre-booking for the meal is essential.
We then joined the party proper. Members of the cast set the scene, sang popular songs from the era, and taught us the steps to the Charleston, as well as involving members of the audience in parts of the story. The tale unfolds, narrated by Nick, who is Gatsby’s neighbour and cousin of Daisy. We learn more about Jay’s background, how he’s made his money (somewhat shadily), and his lingering love for Daisy whom he met when he was a poor soldier, but she is now married to another man. Jay comments that he ‘can hear the money in her voice’. For a while it seems as if their romance may re-ignite, but a tragedy occurs, and Daisy retreats to her comfortable wealthy life. The play unfold in a series of rooms which open via secret doors, some of the audience are privileged to visit these other rooms, exactly as you would at a large house party.
It’s important to realise that this is a fun event, and not an exact re-telling of the book. To get the most from the evening you need to enter the building wanting to have fun, and expecting to take part in the action. So dress up, have an illicit cocktail or a glass of champagne, put on your dancing shoes and join Jay Gatsby for the party of the decade.
We were guests of Immersive LDN, all views are our own.
Booking until 26th July 2020.
Venue: Gatsby’s Mansion, 56 Davies Street, London, W1K 5HR
Nearest tube: Bond Street
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Tickets £20 - £38 (plus booking fee)
Dining tickets: £33 – 47pp for three course meal, plus cost of ticket Group rate 10+ £10 off ticket prices plus booking fee (excludes Saturday evenings)
Education rate 10+ £15 per student plus booking fee, 1 free teacher ticket per 10 paid students – valid Wednesday and Thursday performances
Performance schedule: Wednesday – Sunday @ 7.30pm, Saturday @ 3pm