Review of The Last Flapper

Christy Bishop portrays Zelda Fitzgerald in this one-woman show by William Luce with as much virtuosity, as much invention and commitment as one will ever see on stage. Anywhere. The performance is, simply put, great. How much of the credit goes to Bishop and how much to director Frances Davis, only they know, but the fact that one strand cannot be told from another indicates the seamless achievement of the production.

For $8, every audience member gets to sit within three rows of the stage and take in work that is not just remarkable for Waynesville, but remarkable anywhere. I’d say that work at the Feichter should be much better known, except that would make it harder to score the limited number of tickets. Maybe we should keep it as a glorious Western Carolina secret, like your favorite café or your cherished grove along the Shut-In Trail.

A play like The Last Flapper is not easy to put across. Because poor Zelda is insane, she can be made to veer from topic to topic, mood to mood like — well, like a crazy person. Bishop makes every one of these transitions clear-cut. There’s never a doubt when she’s lucidly present and when she’s elsewhere. Even raving, her diction is crisp. The hard-working woman must need to lie down after every performance.

The play itself is a bit of a problem, though, for it’s clearly designed to show off an actress’s chops and not really to say anything substantive about Zelda, or Scott, or Hemingway (who is mentioned in order to be called a fairy, repeatedly), or any of the brilliant people cast in their lives. They are dropped names, snotty implications. Luce repeats, or perhaps originates, the grotesque libel that Zelda wrote the short stories which F. Scott Fitzgerald then stole and published under his own name. Who wouldn’t believe a crazy woman in the throes of her last sickness, gushing with mad candor and having no reason to lie? Too many axes are being ground a little too loudly.

Zelda, by the way, burned to death at Asheville’s Highland Hospital (then a mental institution), an incident she implies is happening about half an hour before the end of the show. Must have been a very slow fire.

Oh, and one line Zelda utters that only a local audience can fully appreciate: “I have GOT to get out of Asheville, North Carolina!”

Following a sold-out weekend, HART has extended the run of The Last Flapper. Additional performances are Friday, Feb. 11 and Saturday, Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday Feb. 13 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $8 for all adults and $5 for students. Reservations at 456-6322. Feichter Studio Theatre, 250 Pigeon Street, Waynesville.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Webmaster
Mountain Xpress Webmaster Follow me @MXWebTeam

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.