Oddly enough I have a rather brief history with “Gatsby.” I was not assigned to read it in high school; I didn’t even read it until I was out of college, and though I consider myself to be a lover of language, Fitzgerald’s classic somehow took its time meandering onto my reading list.
Still, it amazes me how even though I hadn’t read the book until fairly recently, it managed to still drift in and out of my awareness. In conversations with friends and relatives “Gatsby” was lauded as an expression of the glitz and glamour of the jazz age, a beautifully tragic love story, and an illustration of the power of hope. The grandeur and mystery of “Gatsby” is palpable, and takes on a mystique analogous to that of its titular character.
But at Bag & Baggage, we like to be a little different.
Our approach to the story chooses not to focus on the things we already know. We all know Gatsby loves Daisy Buchanan, we all know these people live a decadent lifestyle, and we all know that the jazz age was an age of promiscuity and excess. While that is all still present in our show, it is not our focus. Instead, we focus on the things we don’t remember about “The Great Gatsby.”
The example that comes to mind comes in the second act of the play when Daisy infers that she and Tom left Chicago because of a “Little Spree” Tom went on. That’s all that is said about it, and yet it was enough that they had to pack up and leave. And yet, she chooses to stay with him.
Indeed, in the script’s climactic moment, when Daisy hit’s and kills Myrtle with Gatsby’s car, she allows Gatsby to take the blame, then returns home to her chronically unfaithful husband and has dinner as if nothing happened.
Even Gatsby himself lies constantly about his history, manipulates Nick, and when given the option to simply run away with Daisy, forces her to tell her husband that she never loved him. It’s not enough for Gatsby to simply be with Daisy, he needs Tom to know that he has beaten him; that he is the better man, and that he was the better man all along. And when his grand illusion results in the death of an innocent person, he still hangs on.
That is our Gatsby. It is a story about people who have everything they want, choose to behave deplorably, and then carry on as if everything was fine. It is a story about people for whom the acquisition of things is not the means to an end, it is an end.
Rich people are bad, The Great Gatsby, by Bag & Baggage.
Resident Acting Company Member
George Wilson, The Great Gatsby