1922. West Egg, New York.

The enigmatic story of Jay Gatsby has been thrilling audiences for almost a hundred years. And now, in a brand new theatrical production, The Great Gatsby Immersive Experience brings the story live and up close.

Each show hosts only 37 audience members, ensuring an intimate and interactive experience for all. Expect plenty of ballroom parties, secret rendezvous’, hints of cabaret and burlesque, and of course – bootleg gin!

Directed by Beth Daly and produced by Aaron RobuckThe Great Gatsby Immersive Experience has been created to blur the boundaries of conventional theatre, and instead, immersing the audience in the play itself. With the production currently running until December, we had a chat with Aaron about what audiences could expect.

How have you transformed this iconic piece of literature into a live theatrical experience?

Aaron: Well, essentially, we wanted to do something sort of non-conventional, immersive, and I had the idea of inhabiting a particular character and allowing the audience to also inhabit a character within a story. And I thought that having the narrator works really well for that – in terms of the audience kind of following a guy who is the narrator of the piece, and allowing that to be the reason why they’re experiencing it live. Gatsby has a great narrator in Nick. So we ended up creating that role of other characters talking to Nick, but allowing them to also talk to the audience in the same way. So the fourth wall is kind of down because the audience are in the room as Nick.

Can you tell me about how the show came to be?

Aaron: I originally wrote the piece in the first [COVID] lockdown, midway through 2021, and it was all about being able to create something that was possible at that time. When you went to the theatre, you had to put your mask on and you were sitting far away from the actors – we actually were able to do it in a way of keeping the numbers small.

Does the production follow the original text closely, or have you changed things?

Aaron: The key points are chronological, but there is this extra element to this production, which is that Nick Carraway is narrating it from 100 years in the future, in 2022. So there are little side bits in between key scenes where the actor playing Nick talks to the audience, and fills them in on why this next scene is important to him after all these years. So we’re acknowledging that the audience are from 2022. And we play with that a lot in the show, the fact that it’s not a replica production of what it really would look like. Our designer, whose name is Brendan de la Hay, makes a lot of the spaces in totally different eras. Myrtle’s apartment, for example, is like this retro sixties neon space. And then there are other bits that are more traditional, and some things that are really, really contemporary. So there’s that sense of timelessness to it.

Can you tell me a bit about the venue?

Aaron: There’s about nine different rooms that we perform in. So we’ve got a two-story warehouse, an old retail shopfront with a warehouse at the back with an office upstairs that we transformed into this whole thing, and there’s quite a big car park outside. Then we’ve got our ‘ballroom’ space, which is like the big warehouse, and that’s where all the parties are done – there are two big Gatsby parties that are held there.

How would you convince someone to come and see The Great Gatsby Immersive Experience?

Aaron: I would say that it gives you a bit of everything. It gives you that sense of ‘I’m not at the theatre, I’m just having a night out’, in terms of seeing some live music, grabbing a drink, and then being brought in by people and being talked at by colourful characters. I always think of it like you’re on a movie set, and you get to see the action really, really close. It gives you that sense of it. I think that we’re catering towards both audiences – those that are into the acting and the drama of it all, but also those that like just dressing up with their friends and going out and enjoying something kind of different.

Can you sum up the show in 3 words?

Aaron: The first one would be rollercoaster. I would say intoxicating, and that’s probably meaning two different things. And beautiful.

The Great Gatsby: Immersive Experience is playing until December 18th.

For tickets and more information, visit the Hidden Brisbane website.

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator, and is the current Deputy Editor-in-Chief of AussieTheatre.com. She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *