The true story of Zelda Sayres

GBC theatre shows there is much more to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife than her husband

★★★★☆

Zelda Sayres was not just the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

She was a flapper, a mother, a dancer and so much more.

The George Brown Theatre School (GBTS) showcased this beautifully in their original production of Scott Shorts and Zelda, a play about the infamous life of Zelda Sayres on Feb. 8 at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts.

The play took its text from the biography of Sayres by Nancy Milford, letters exchanged between Sayres and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Fitzgerald’s short stories.

The character of Zelda was conceptualized throughout the play through the different parts of her personality and life. There were many “Zeldas” in the play, and each part of Sayre’s life was a different role within the production.

Alison Beckwith, who played Swing Zelda said it was beneficial that they had required readings to complete prior to rehearsals.

This allowed the cast members to decide which parts of Zelda they wanted to explore in their character.

“We’ve been learning a lot about how to just be in the room and be our own artist in a rehearsal room, rather than a student,” she said.

The show blended its monologue-heavy text into a physical performance that overlaid Sayre’s story with the physical representation of her emotions through movement, mainly ballet.

The use of ballet as a means to communicate Sayres’ inner emotions was a great creative decision. As one may not know going into the play, Sayres studied ballet as a child and became obsessed with it at a point in her life.

Manon Ens-Lapointe, who played Ballet Zelda said that they have taken physicality and brought it into a much more magnified way in this production.

“When words aren’t enough, we go to movement,” she said.

The play’s monologue-format alone could not have told this story completely. Without the amazing physical performances from every single cast member the show would have fallen flat.

Although the entire ensemble shone equally in this production, so much so that it would be impossible to say which cast member’s Zelda was the protagonist, it would be unfair not to note some standout performances.

Beckwith’s portrayal of Zelda in the end of the play truly made me cry, she was not acting for an audience on a stage, it was as if everything happening to her character was truly happening in that moment.

Another standout performance was Mackenzie Kelly’s portrayal of Mum Zelda.

Kelly’s style of acting offered a completely different Zelda from the rest. Kelly expertly bounced between comedy and tragedy, all whilst keeping her character starkly realistic, but also incredibly unique from the rest of the cast.

The cast has put a lot of work and love into this production, “we have so much love for this piece and for the time period,” Ens-Lapointe said.

Thanks to the incredible physical dedication of the entire cast, the story was multidimensional and enticing at every moment.

Scott Shorts and Zelda is a definite watch for anyone interested in the story of an incredible woman who has throughout history been boxed into just being the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Scott Shorts and Zelda plays at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts until Friday, Feb. 15. Student tickets are $10, adult tickets $25 and senior tickets $20.

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The true story of Zelda Sayres