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The Great Gatsby – every word of it – is an unlikely theatrical success story. Jodie McLeod reports.*

Jim Fletcher as mystery man Jay Gatsby
Jim Fletcher as mystery man Jay Gatsby

SEVEN hours and 35 minutes is how long audiences will spend in the theatre when New York theatre company Elevator Repair Service presents Gatz in Sydney. The show, a verbatim performance of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel The Great Gatsby, is about five times longer than the average theatre production.

But Gatz‘s director, John Collins, says length should not be off-putting. “There’s a special excitement and a sense of accomplishment that the audience feels when they leave the theatre and they’ve just heard an entire novel in one sitting,” he says.

Collins, who is also the company’s artistic director, originally wanted to trim the novel when he first began working on a stage adaptation in 1999 but quickly decided editing it was a no-no.

“The narrator’s thoughts are such a huge part of what makes this a great novel. And so that became the project: how would you stage a novel without rewriting or cutting it?”

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