Show is based on the letters and stories of Zelda Fitzgerald

Wine Country Theatre in Paso Robles presents The Last Flapper June 1-17, at the Park Ballroom in downtown Paso Robles. This one-woman show, is based on the letters and stories of Zelda Fitzgerald, the glamorous, fun loving and tragic Mrs. F. Scott Fitzgerald, who embodied the “live fast, die young” philosophy.

Beth Marshall stars as the indomitable Zelda. The play was recently performed in Cambria to great reviews and has been picked up by Wine Country Theatre to present as part of their season.

Akin to a roller-coaster ride, Zelda takes you through her creative, turbulent, childlike, impassioned pursuit of life through fragmented remembrances. With cutting wit one moment and tangible angst the next, she moves through the past, revealing a rebellious nature that surfaced in the home of her Southern aristocratic parents.

Against her father’s wishes, Zelda married F. Scott Fitzgerald. This began their whirlwind existence and mutual jealousies — ending with her husband committing her to an asylum and her mental disintegration. Left unsupervised in a sanitarium — where she has been placed by her famous husband — Zelda breaks into the desk of her psychiatrist, flips through her file, and tells us her life story.

She was a cultural icon of the 1920s, the symbol of a liberated generation that made up its own rules. She also suffered from an undiagnosed form of mental illness, and she constantly felt overshadowed by her more famous, and more gifted, husband.

The Last Flapper monologue alternates sardonic comments about her present confinement and dreamy reminiscences about her adolescence with flashes of anger and resentment, mostly aimed at Scott.

An artist and author in her own right, Zelda finds herself a repressed candle dimly flickering in her husband’s limelight, with Scott constantly trying to extinguish or utilize her creativity. It is her submission of a novel to Fitzgerald’s editor that leads to Zelda’s institutionalization.

This highly-recommended production provides insights into one of literary history’s most tempestuous affairs; it also exposes the darker results of shackling an artist’s emergence. See the play and view how the medical community treated Zelda and any woman who challenged the evident Victorian expectations. Her first European psychiatrist wrote that the goal was to bring Mrs. Fitzgerald to accept her role as a good wife and mother to her child. Her artistic pursuits were to be limited to hobbies and not career goals.

That Scott and Zelda needed each other and destroyed each other is one of the great stories in American literary culture. On a deeper level, what did their lives say about America, the dream, and the reality?

Beth Marshall stars, with direction by Jacob Shearer.

Shows are Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., at the Park Ballroom, 1232 Park St. in Paso Robles. Wine, cheese plates, and snacks are available to enjoy before and during the show. For tickets, go to winecountrytheatre.com or call 800-838-3006.