Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
Scott and Zelda, the Beautiful Fools
Directed by Belville's partner Lynn Lohr, the play re-examines the Fitzgeralds, two darlings of the Jazz Age, twenty years after Scott ((brightly depicted by RVP newcomer Frankie Stornaiuolo)) and the beautiful Zelda (Emily Dwyer) met and a couple of years before his sudden, early death. Despite correctly calling himself "the highest-paid short-story writer in America," Fitzgerald is constantly broke, creatively blocked, and desperately jealous of Hemingway's (Izaak Heath) success. The marriage was plagued by their alcoholism, infidelity, and bitter arguing and Belville's Scott continually flings daggers, like "You were young when everything was beautiful," at his increasingly schizophrenic wife.
A peppy yet hurtful opening scene takes place in the Hollywood apartment of Fitzgerald's lover Sheilah Graham (Marissa Ellison), the British-born gossip columnist who later penned "Beloved Infidel," her best-selling novel about their relationship. Frustrated and drunk, Fitzgerald embarrasses Graham in front of the maid by calling her "a London guttersnipe and a Jew."
The action then switches from New York to The Hamptons, Paris, and the Riviera and in flashbacks to Alabama where the Fitzgerald's first met.
For the most part, the action is played on an empty, black stage, with only a couch and a few acrylic chairs as props (in one scene the chairs are oddly effective as a Christmas tree), While the bulk of the show focuses on Fitzgerald, often musing directly to the audience, we're also introduced to their child Scottie (Charlotte Curtis), his literary agent Harold Ober (Peter Warden), and his long-suffering editor Max Perkins (Ron Talbot), while Jannely Calmell covers numerous other roles.
This production is a work in progress and Ross Valley Players must be commended for their innovative RAW productions, which showcase new works. Their shows in this series have grown in the past decade from short vignettes performed in front of the curtain, to this fully produced West Coast premiere.
Scott and Zelda, the Beautiful Fools, through April 28, 2019, at Ross Valley Players, Barn Theatre, 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross CA. Performances are Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Tickets are $20 general admission. For tickets and information, call 415-456-9555 Ext. 1 or visit www.rossvalleyplayers.com.