A 49,00 word play

I don’t know how I missed this when I was in London last week, but it seems that there’s an eight-hour play currently running in the West End of London. And to rave reviews. Sounds ambitious? It is. It’s an off-Broadway hit called Gatz, that has transferred to London and is now wowing the audiences who can spare the almost eight hours to watch it. The reason for the length of the play is that it’s a reading of the entire 49,000 words of Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby.  London critics have generally loved it. Michael Billington, in the Guardian says: “A great American classic has been captured with total, transfixing fidelity by this dedicated ensemble.”

Sarah Crompton in the Telegraph said that “the other appeal of Gatz is that you go into a theatre early in the day, and emerge late at night, having devoted a day to one single cultural pursuit. This type of marathon is always a joy.”

The play is presented in a 1990’s office where one of the employees is waiting for a computer repair man to fix his computer. He picks up the novel while he’s waiting, and begins to read. As he does so, the workers around him begin to turn into the characters he’s reading about.

What fascinates me about this is the fact that it brings yet one more rendition of this famous book to the public. I’m not sure that someone who wasn’t already familiar with the novel would sign up to see it, but I like the idea that books can live on, not just in paper or eBook, but in films (although, of course, adapted) and now as a stage performance. Do I yearn to see it? I think I’d go if I were in London.

What do you think? Is this idea pretentious or brilliant?

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