Mad or just angry – she’s certainly alone. Jazz icon Zelda Fitzgerald is locked up in a mental hospital and has just hours to live.
Award-winning actress Catherine D. DuBord and Texan director Lydia Mackay will premiere their new version of The Last Flapper by William Luce at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
The play is set during the final hours of woman famed as a wild, fun-loving socialite, novelist, painter and playwright. She and her husband F Scott Fitzgerald, were simultaneously celebrated as icons and damned as enfants terribles of the Jazz Age.
Playful, candid and poignant, The Last Flapper allows Zelda to speak for herself, rather than have others bend her story to their own purposes – as happened in her life and after her death. Based on her own letters and stories it asks the questions that others, including the medics who subjected her to inhumane treatments, did not:
- Did her husband steal her words?
- Did he claim she was insane just to gain his freedom?
- Can a woman ever decide her own fate?
While the play is historical, the issues it tackles are anything but history.
Playing Zelda in Luce’s one woman show fulfils a long-held ambition for DuBord, who lived yards from the Fitzgeralds’ former home in St. Paul, Minnesota.
She said: “I fell in love with the show when I was 16. I was born right around the corner from the Fitzgerald house, so when I found this play about her letters and writing, I was immediately sucked in.
“The show has undertones of a woman’s right to her own medical decisions. Zelda did not have that. She was trying to find her voice in a world that was not ready to hear from women.
“That was in the 1920s–1940s. Time has passed but progress has only been limited, indeed it can feel like we are sliding backwards. The echoes of the past are highly relevant today, which is why I decided on this project.”