I had a sneaking suspicion many of the audience would be dressed up, so I pulled a shift dress out of my wardrobe, stuck a feather in my hair and hot-footed it down to Tower Bridge
I’m going to let you into a little secret: London’s coolest theatrical venue, situated in a secluded alley near Tower Bridge, is Wilton’s Music Hall.
Wilton's produces plays, musicals, operas and has often been featured in films because of its original nineteenth-century interior, as well as its eighteenth-century bar.
I first came to know about this quirky lost Victorian music hall more than ten years ago when I was in a rather avant-garde opera designed by Red or Dead's Wayne Hemingway. Half the theatre was a hard hat area, the ceiling was falling down and we couldn’t use the back stairs as your foot could go straight through the rotting wood.
Thankfully things have improved as phase one of a multi- million pound redevelopment scheme has meant the secure restoration of the auditorium but there is still much work to be done. The Georgian houses at the back are suffering from subsidence but they could one day provide wonderful creative spaces for theatre production as well as education.
I HAD BOOKED tickets for The Great Gatsby, an adaption of the novel by Peter Joucla, and had a sneaking suspicion many of the audience would be dressed up, so I pulled a shift dress out of my wardrobe, stuck a feather in my hair and hot-footed it down to Tower Bridge.
I wasn’t wrong: not only was the spirit of the Roaring Twenties alive with actors staging a Prohibition raid in the bar, but they had you up on stage dancing the Charleston in the interval.
One could criticise this adaptation of a novel with such profound undertones for being too light-hearted in its execution but it totally fitted the environment and its purpose, which was to involve the audience: we were Gatsby’s guests at one of his parties and what a swell party it was.
There were dark moments that struck a chord, but what impressed me most was the superb level of close harmony singing between the swiftly moving scenes and how tightly this superb band of actors worked, all strongly characterised with equal footing as principal or observer in certain scenes.
Kyle Redmond Jones, who plays Gatsby, could pass for a Hollywood A-lister as he bears a frightening resemblance to Leonardo DiCaprio, and a special mention must go to Rachel Donovan who gave a strong, dramatic and vulnerable performance as Myrtle.
Returning to Wilton’s after more than ten years and seeing what has already has been achieved excites me as the spirit of the venue has been enhanced. A delightful Bohemian lost world embraces you.
The Great Gatsby is a fun night out for those of you who want to venture off the beaten track and impress your friends. A good tip is to book a table at the front near the stage and get there early to experience the bar entertainment as well as a Twenties sing-along.
It is also a perfect venue for parties but please keep it under your top hat.
The Great Gatsby is on at Wilton's Music Hall, near Tower Bridge, until 23 March 2013