Revisiting The Great Gatsby At Hudson
Play does justice to stage adaptation of the classic novel
By Ernest Hemmingway, retired (alias Byron Toben)
To all my loyal and steadfast fans still on the blue globe:
Living on high is pure and good. I am writing a book about after life in literary Heaven, I may call it the Old Man and the Sky. My friend from our Paris Days, Mr F. Scott Fitzgerald is in the other place. We do not meet now. If we did, I could still outbox him and outwrite him.
He did write one simple and true book, I admit. It was about a mysterious man with mysterious wealth named Jay Gatsby who owned a huge house on Long Island. He wore a white suit, sometimes pink, drove a yellow roadster, and gazed at a green light across the lake. These four colours are honest and fine.
I was surprised to gaze down one day upon a village called Hudson in a place called Quebec which is in a country called Canada, where I started my own career as a journalist for a paper called Toronto Star.
What I saw seemed to be that book, The Great Gatsby, come to life. Gatsby gave great parties, invited famous guests and never stinted on food and liquor. He may have gone to Cambridge as he called everybody ‘Old Sport’.
Gatsby doted on a woman named Daisy. She seemed to me to bear a resemblance to F. Scott’s wife Zelda. Southern belle Zelda was called the first flapper of that golden Jazz age. To me, she was unbalanced. I never got along with her.
Brooding over the town is a giant billboard advertisement for an optometrist. The wide eyes might be the eyes of God judging the hypocrisies of the souls of the day. A void beyond the trips back and forth to New York, the secret affairs, the sometimes brutal blows, the fake smiles. My friend Getrude might have said, “There is no there there.”
Idealistic Nick is involved in all the machinations but is too honest and moral to really be a part of it, which makes him a fine candidate to explain the goings on to the audience. My above comments have been channelled to you by one Byron of Westmount, to whom I leave you for more details as I return to my iCloud. Heaven is comfortable but no animals to hunt as befits a true man.
Return To Earth…
Wow, thanks Ernie. I haven’t been used as a channel since Damon Runyon selected me for Guys and Dolls. Click to read that applauded review.
Director Donna Byrne has done a bang up job in fleshing out Simon Levy’s 2006 stage adaptation of the classic novel, which has had several movie versions, notably with Robert Redford (1973) and Leonardo di Caprio (2013) as Gatsby. Here, Matt Langton, a Concordia grad, captures the outer bragado but inner inferiority of the character.
Lia Grant is pitch perfect as Daisy Buchanan, the sensitive but ditsy jazz age gal married to the alpha male Tom (David Andersen).
Adam Recine is pivotal to the plot as Nick, a friendly outsider who acts as a sort of narrator.
Jazmine Floyd and Andrew Richardson as Myrtle and George Wilson add tragic aspects to a key sub plot.
Thirteen other skilled actor/dancers fill the stage with some boop boop de doop Charleston displays. This dance was popularized by Josephine Baker in Paris, and the Broadway musical Runnin’ Wild. It also provided background in Woody Allen’s 2011 film Midnight in Paris with its great cast of F. Scott, Zelda, Ernie and Gertrude impersonators.
The Great Gatsby continues at Hudson Village Theatre until November 13.
Tickets or information at 438 923-6828 or go to hudsonplayersclub.ca
Images: Donna Byrne
Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club