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Capital Fringe Review: ‘The Last Flapper’ by Julia L. Exline

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Carmela Lanza-Weil directs The Last Flapper, a theatrical biography of Zelda Fitzgerald, with a passionate solo performance by Kate Erin Gibson as Zelda. Set on the date of her death (March 10th, 1948) Zelda is a whirlwind of emotional turmoil as she has a series of schizophrenic, one-sided conversations in the vacant office of her psychiatrist. Rebellious, flashy, and prone to sudden fits of hysteria, Zelda takes us through memories of her life, from childhood, to the moment she met Scott Fitzgerald, to personal anecdotes from their marriage. What makes this play so interesting is the fact that its text is made up primarily of Zelda’s own writings, in which she scorns her husband for never respecting her as an artist, and hiding her in his successful shadow; “I loved the artist in him, but I should have loved the artist in myself—and he should have, also.”

The material is so raw and poignant, and Kate’s performance so intense, that I left the theater feeling somewhat like an emotional dishrag. However, the look into this woman’s life (and the mental destruction that stemmed from it) through her own work was fascinating to watch. Tuesday, July 24th is Zelda’s birthday, and yes, there will be a performance! What better way to celebrate?

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