[Live Review] The Last Flapper

the last flapper (27 of 27)

The Last Flapper
Brisbane Fringe Festival
Starring Rebecca Elise Lamb
Reload Cafe, August 22:

There is nothing more tragic to live your life in another person’s shadow. To be talented and beautiful and never get recognition for that. The life of Zelda Fitzgerald was such a tragic tale, always in the shadow of her famous husband F.Scott Fitzgerald and never quite able to shine on her own.

We meet Zelda in the office of her psychiatrist on the last day of her life. He hasn’t shown up to the appointment and Zelda is left to muse alone about her confinement in the sanatorium suffering what is diagnosed as schizophrenia. Dumped there by her husband all Zelda wants is to go home and  she rants at the absent Doctor.

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Throughout the play Zelda flashes back between parts of her life, her childhood with strict parents, her marriage to Fitzgerald and her life as The Original Flapper. It’s a heart breaking tale of a woman that was brilliant, beautiful and some what of a misfit. An artist in her own right Zelda was never really recognized even when plagiarized by her own husband, eventually dying young.

In her moving soliloquies Zelda at times is angry, reflective, happy and as she bounces through the gamut of emotions during her reflections on a life that was a veil of happiness, played out for an adoring public. We see deep sadness in Zelda and frustrations at her life, a stark contrast to the public figure that she was. Known for being a party girl there was more to Zelda Fitzgerald than just being the beautiful wife of a celebrated author.

Written by William Luce the play is based on the journals and letters of Zelda and it is a glimpse into her mind. One can’t help but think was Zelda really insane or was she suffering exhaustion from being a woman never allowed to shine. Losing her identity as and artist would have been a difficult cross to bear and one she never knew how to.

In the role of Zelda Fitzgerald  Brisbane actor Rebecca Elise Lamb brings to life the tragic tale of a most brilliant woman with the respect it deserves. She is radiant as Zelda and her Southern accent is believable, never once faltering. As the viewer navigates the way through Zelda’s mind Lamb makes the emotional transitions fluid and believable. Her delivery evokes pathos for a woman that was largely misunderstood.  The set design and costuming are sparse and simple, making it authentic and believable.

As she moves about the stage interacting with the characters in her mind, Lamb gives the viewer a sense that they are there in the room. She also at times makes it seem like the audience are her audience and this is a conversation between her and us. She breathes life into Zelda making her vivid, witty and charming and yet a little tragic as well.

The road for a female artist is quite often paved with pain and heartbreak. Zelda Fitzgerald was no exception to this with the inevitable tragic ending of her life came the bitter closure of an existence that could have been so much greater had the fates allowed it.

The Last Flapper is showing as a part of the Brisbane Fringe Festival.

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