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You are here: Home > Young Writers' Hub > Blog > Which Gatsby is the greatest? Plays go head-to-head in roaring Twenties row
Which Gatsby is the greatest? Plays go head-to-head in roaring Twenties row
Three productions clash with the DiCaprio blockbuster – so which will end in tragedy?

The entertainment world is in the grip of the Roaring Twenties and one of the era's most celebrated works.

British fans of The Great Gatsby, the celebrated novel of F Scott Fitzgerald, can look forward to three stage productions this year and a blockbuster movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Jay Gatsby and acquaintances are set to make the leap from the page to the London stages of Wilton's Music Hall, the King's Head Theatre and the Noel Coward Theatre in 2012.

Experts have variously attributed the revitalised fascination with one of 20th-century American literature's most enduring works with the strength of the storytelling, a fascination with the period and copyright law. One believes that, above all, it is the book's "astonishingly striking" parallels with the modern day that have prompted the spate of adaptations.

Guy Reynolds, professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said: "It is all to do with money. The book had a context of numerous scandals including financial ones. People were making a great amount of money, but that money was twisted and bent. The novel looks like a template for what has happened recently."

Perhaps the most anticipated adaptation is Gatz, an eight-hour production from the avant-garde New York company Elevator Repair Service, which is coming over as part of the London International Festival of Theatre. John Collins, the director, said: "The Great Gatsby is a perfectly constructed gem of a piece of writing. I loved how lyrical and efficient it was. The contemporary resonance is a little bit deeper than short-term cultural trends. The style of the period is exciting and beautiful, but the definitive work of the Jazz Age is based on the depth and beauty of the work."

The production dates back to 1999, but repeated failure to win over the Fitzgerald estate's literary agents meant it was forced to perform underground in Manhattan. At the time, the only official stage adaptation to be approved by the author's estate since 1926 opened The Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis.

Yet the estate allowed Gatz to tour Europe before it finally played New York in 2010 "after certain agreements expired", Mr Collins said, proving one of the hottest tickets of the season. This year will see its first production in the UK.

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The Independent 

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