The Last Flapper

There’s been a mix-up in the weekly appointment with her Sanatorium psychiatrist. Zelda has now 50 minutes of free time, and illicit access to her psychiatric file... So opens a whistle-stop tour of the life and loves of Zelda Fitzgerald: her many beaus, her many scandals, her marriage to Scott Fitzgerald, and her lesser-known literary career.

A whistle stop tour of the life and loves of Zelda Fitzgerald

The biography of a famous person, staged by a single actor, is a mainstay of Fringe shows. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be informative, intriguing, moving, and bloody funny.

The Last Flapper manages to romp through the key stories about Zelda (the greatest insults, scandals, disappointments) without appearing like a mere list of greatest hits. Her mood, and our perception of her character, changes as the show develops.

The script balances the hard-boiled humorous imp that Zelda presents to us in her present, while showing the pain and joys of Zelda’s past. A strength of the play is to achieve poetry in expressing Zelda’s nostalgia, her love of the Southern States, and her genuine love for Scott, while always avoiding tweeness.

The changing atmospheres of the play is delicately assisted by the soundtrack, ranging from Sanatorium tannoy announcements to the music of Zelda’s youth and marriage.

Zelda is played by Catherine DuBord, who, onstage, is something of a life-force herself; commanding the audience with the appropriate mixture of vivaciousness, irresponsibility, coquettishness, mania, and righteous anger. Zelda is no wall-flower. (Nor, frankly, would she be an easy person to live with.)

Currently, there is an exciting trend in biography, where the lives of brilliant but overshadowed women are being re-evaluated. And this fun production is a terrific introduction to another wife of a famous man, whose story needs to be brought into the light.

The most shocking revelation to me was Scott Fitzgerald’s mistreatment of her literary talents; not so much the fact that Scott used unacknowledged text from her letters in his novels, but Zelda’s claim that he sabotaged the publication of her first novel so that it became a commercial and critical failure.

The show concludes, and the actress exits, but Zelda does not leave your mind. Instead your fingers are itching to get online and research the truth and lies of her life.

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Reviews by Mark Harding

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The Blurb

Is she mad… or just angry? Alone in a mental hospital, Zelda Fitzgerald, icon of the Jazz Age, asks the questions her doctor should have. Did F Scott steal her words? Did he claim she was insane just to gain his freedom? Can a woman ever decide her own fate? In this poignant, playful, and candid one-woman show, Zelda finally gets to tell her side of the story. Performed by award-winning Dallas actress Catherine DuBord, and directed by award-winning Texan Lydia Mackay, this historical play wrestles with issues that are anything but history.

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