THIS is the end of the Fleeting Arms, the pop-up theatre and arts venue that has snapped and crackled and will pop off on New Year's Eve night after a thrilling six months or more of improvised creativity.

Not since the heyday of York Arts Centre, in Micklegate, has York had such an inspirational, offbeat, unique arts space, but like The Willow it must go, the For Sale signs already up outside.

So too was a note on the door, instructing you to go round the back for the Drugstore. Up the stairs you climb, your path picked out by lights, before Alexander Flanagan-Wright, the whispering doorman in the low-slung hat, guides you into the party to end all parties.

Once inside, the Jazz Age joint is jumping, Phil Grainger's pick of the period pops are playing as he serves cocktails, washes glasses and keeps an eye on the hot dogs, the aroma wafting across those gathered in Twenties' American garb.

York Press:

Ollie Tilney as J Gatsby in The Guild of Misrule's The Great Gatsby. Picture: Chris Mackins

Flanagan-Wright, from Belt Up Theatre and The Flanagan Collective, has created The Guild of Misrule for the Fleeting Arms farewell, presenting a "unique immersive theatre production" with a cast of familiar faces from his past productions or from York's theatre scene, all of them comfortable with what lies in store.

Welcome to writer-director Flanagan-Wright's exhilarating interpretation of F Scott Fitzgerald's story of jazz, liquor and excess (a variation on sex and drugs and rock'n'roll), where dancing and debauchery will burst out over all three floors.

There is a structure, there is a script, there is a joint finale, but Flanagan-Wright's company of "unrelaiable witnesses" to Gatsby's world must mingle with the audience, engage in off-the-cuff conversations, and the more you play with them, the better your experience will be as Ollie Tilney's J Gatsby invites you to "attend my little party".

Michael Lambourne, scandalously not involved in any Yorkshire pantomime this winter, is gainfully employed as narrator Nick Carraway, bringing everyone to his attention as he climbs on to the bar.


York Press:

Michael Lambourne as narrator Nick Carraway. Picture: Chris Mackins

The Great Gatsby's story will unfold in four rooms; sometimes you will all be in one, at others, you are urged to track cast members into other rooms; you choose your route, back your own inclinations, go with the flow. You won't see everything, but you will, for example, be drawn into the struggles of Grainger's George, exhausted to the core in his fraying relationship with Hannah Davies's Myrtle.

You can follow the path of Thomas Mellar's hot-headed Tom Buchanan and Amie Burns Walker's Daisy; you can join in the dashing Charleston dancing; or in a quiet moment find Tilney's Gatsby breaking down in conversation with Lambourne's Carraway.

The gorgeous designs and costumes by Jessica Watson-Cainer; the Twenties haircuts; the multitude of lampshades in an upstairs room; the attentive barmen; the way the drama rises like a river soon to flood; the perfect soundtrack; everything has been thought of, just like J Gatsby would insist at his parties.

As if by magic, after the choreographed chaos and havoc, everyone is back in one place for the moving finale, the climax to a theatre experience like no other in York this year.

The Great Gatsby, The Guild of Misrule, The Fleeting Arms, Gillygate, York, partying until New Year's Eve, except December 14, 22 and 24 to 26. Box office: 01904 623568, at