By: Rebecca Juntunen
Viewing the world through rose-colored glasses is one thing, but viewing it through a kaleidoscope creates a whole new outlook of the people in it. Be prepared to confront this outlook if you plan to attend this weekend’s showing of “The Great Gatsby”.
The production, staged by the Pensacola State College Theater program, is Simon Levy’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book “The Great Gatsby”. It is being held in PSC’s Ashmore Auditorium, and is directed by PSC professor and director of the Theatre Program, Dr. Rodney Whatley.
The story follows the young Nick Carraway, returning disillusioned from the war, to visit his rich cousin, Daisy Buchanan and her husband Tom. However, his peaceful visit and overall peaceful existence, is ruined the moment the name “Gatsby” is uttered in their first conversation. The name and its owner toss him, the Buchanans, and a handful of other characters whirling into a colorful web of romance, infidelity, confusion, rumor, and deception.
PSC’s staging of The Great Gatsby infused the story with a vivid new perspective: colorful characters against the colorful backdrop of how they view Fitzgerald’s world.
The color contrast was mainly provided by a single character: Carroway. He was excellently depicted by Garret Metzler as a struggling, confused young man, trying to find his way in the world and straighten out the horrible mess he is in. His pensive wonderings were the opening words of the production, as well as the closing. Often, after other characters abandoned the stage, the lights would dim and he would be left alone to address his questions and confusions to the audience and to subtly interpret the events of the play for them.
As he turned to exit the stage, complete darkness would descend, and a huge pair of eyes above the stage would be illuminated; an ever present, over-arching perspective that represents the eyes of God.
Color was celebrated with flare in the set, costumes, and characters themselves. Every few scenes, the stage came alive with a party scene, full of 1920 flapper dresses, jazz music and a period dance, choreographed by PSC dance instructor LaVonne French.
The rainbow-checkered backgrounds, gold trimmed columns, palm trees, and elegant stone veranda captured the essence of the world in which the production is set: a 1920’s world of privilege, wealth and scandal. The characters of that world were no less vivid: the controlling and faithless Tom, the seductive and indifferent Jordan, and the passionate and naively hopeful, Jay Gatsby.
With the progression of the story, friendly encounters grew into hateful quarrels, as Brittany Mulcahy’s portrayal of the supposedly happy-go-lucky, Daisy, showed her to truly be an indecisive, broken woman who wants to love, but does not know how.
Initially, a viewer would judge these characters for their many flaws. But the excellence of the individual acting and the foreshadowing elements of the plot hush such prejudices and lure the viewer to see each character with a fresh perspective.
At the play’s opening, Nick tried to view the world of his friends with lenses of black and white: right and wrong, moral and immoral, true and false. But as his viewpoint changes and the audience finds that each character is colorful, has painful pasts, justifiable motives, and deep sorrow.
The Great Gatsby gives the audience a colorful kaleidoscope of emotions through which to view the characters. After all, there is no black and white in the world of Jay Gatsby.
The show closed with an unspeakable ending that will have those who do not know the story, gaping for an explanation.
“The Great Gatsby” is showing Thursday, February 27th to Sunday, March 2nd, 2014. Tickets are available at the Ashmore auditorium box office.