THE Guild Of Misrule’s smash-hit immersive staging of The Great Gatsby is coming home for Christmas.

Stillington playwright and director Alexander Flanagan Wright first mounted his adaptation at The Fleeting Arms, the pop-up arts centre that took over an empty Gillygate pub cum music bar in 2015.

He might have expected his December show to be equally as fleeting, but three years later, The Great Gatsby has danced its way into eight locations, including transferring to Sheffield, two London locations, Dublin, Castle Howard this summer and even a Belgian hotel. The vacated pub, meanwhile, is still gathering cobwebs.

This season alone, Wright’s The Great Gatsby can be seen in a London Bridge warehouse (until March) as the capitol’s longest-running immersive show; at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin in November and December, and from this week at Theatre @ 41, Monkgate, York, where Wright first revived it in and around the John Cooper Studio in 2016.

The Guild Of Misrule’s interactive cult-hit has now played to 50,000 people. “When we first started making immersive theatre ten years ago, a lot of people didn’t even know what that meant,” says Alexander.

“We certainly never thought when we created an immersive Great Gatsby in an empty pub in York that we would be bringing it back having sold-out across the country. We’re so proud of the show.”

From the start, University of York graduate Wright has worked with fellow Yorkshiremen on the peripatetic play, with regular cast members Holly Beasley-Garrigan and Phil Grainger doing the choreography and sound design respectively.

Wright’s version puts the audience in the heart and heat of F Scott Fitzgerald’s American world. Everyone is encouraged to dress in their best 1920s’ attire and join in with the performance as it moves around 41 Monkgate, whether dancing like a flapper to a jazz number or engaging in impromptu conversation with dapper, mysterious host Jay Gatsby.

“The audience members choose their path through the story, following characters into various rooms for assignations, contretemps and confessions,” explains Alexander.

Grainger takes a break from playing George Wilson, focusing on sound for this run, but Beasley-Garrigan will be heading towards her 500th performance in the role of Jordan Baker.

Fellow Gatsby stalwart Amie Burns-Walker will be Daisy Buchanan once more; York actor Toby Gordon returns north from the London company to play Tom Buchanan; Oliver Towse reprises his lead role as Jay Gatsby; designer Casey JayAndrews resumes playing Myrtle Wilson; Tom Figgins fills Grainger’s shoes as George Wilson, and the narrator’s part, Nick Carraway, goes to Hugh Stubbins.

Casey first appeared in Gatsby at Theatre Delicatessen, Sheffield, two years ago and has since "covered" for Myrtle in London and now she is performing in the York production for the first time, as well as designing the set. The "stage" will be much bigger than for her last performance in York when she performed her solo Fringe show, Lion House Theatre Company's The Archive Of Educated Hearts, for audiences of five in a very compact shed earlier this year.

"I also designed the London set, and for York I've sourced lots of furniture to fill the space in the various rooms; there's a great Christian Community Action Group in Reading I use who've really helped out," she says.

Holly has enjoyed the lead-up to this week's opening night. "Always playing the same part, it's been really nice to come back into rehearsals with Alex when you've done it that many times and you've got into a rhythm," she says. "My job is to keep it fresh, so it's good to rethink the character as there are always new things you can find, even after 500 shows."

Appraising why Wright's Gatsby has been so successful, Holly says: "People recognised the Gatsby name and thought an immersive version with dressing up and dancing sounded fun and a great night out, but it's been successful for this long because of the way it works, having been created through an organic process: whoever, whatever, you choose to follow, you will get the story and it feels like magic that the stories feed into each other.

"One Gatsby enthusiast reckoned it took her 11 times to see all the scenes, but you can enjoy it however many scenes you see."

Casey adds: "The Great Gatsby is a world you recognise from the book and the films and now you get to experience that world for yourself – and it works particularly well as immersive theatre because, as Jordan Baker says: 'I love big parties because they're so intimate', and that's so true of this show because it's big but intimate."

Holly rejoins: "Companies like Secret Cinema and Les Enfants Terribles have done immersive shows with bigger budgets, but when we started, we had no money, so we put everything into telling a good story, and using our imagination to do that, and that's what makes it feel intimate and personal, rather than a corporate experience.

"People are always astounded when they say, 'Are you sure there are only seven of you in the cast? It feels like there must be more'. I think they really enjoy seeing us work so hard."

The Guild Of Misrule’s The Great Gatsby runs at Theatre @41, Monkgate, York, until January 5. Tickets start at £15 and a special New Year’s Eve performance is available. Box office: 01904 623568 or at

Charles Hutchinson