SCOTT AND ZELDA, compiled and adapted by Rosemary Walsh and John Pruessner; directed by Dorothy Neuman; at the Source Theatre in repertory through May 10.
Tennessee Williams had a go at the Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald story last year, and the result, called "Clothes for a Summer Hotel," didn't do much for any of the parties involved, including the audience. Now Rosemary Walsh and John Pruessner have created a quasi-play from the Fitzgerald's own writings, as a master's degree project at George Washington University. The theory, apparently, is that Scott and Zelda may have told their story better than anyone else.
One thing is certainly shown by the somewhat flimsy production that opened Wednesday night at the Source Theatre. Scott Fitzgerald may never have had the success he yearned for as a playwright, but there are highly stage-worthy scenes in his stories and novels. "Scott and Zelda" includes quite a few of these, taken from "This Side of Paradise," "The Beautiful and the Damned" and elsewhere. It also includes one short scene from Zelda's remarkable novel, "Save Me the Waltz," and excerpts from their intense correspondence.
Scott Fitzgerald made liberal use of his courtship and marriage as literary material. But that being said, the underlying assumption of this production -- that these excerpts add up to "one story of an unforgettable marriage" -- can be questioned. If most of the characters in these fragments are close or distant variations on Scott and Zelda, then this two-character pastiche has been seriously miscast. Neither Christopher Hurt nor Walsh (the co-star as well as co-compiler) comes across as sufficiently dashing or riveting to meet our expectations or what the young Scott and Zelda should be like.
The most charitable interpretation of this "Scott and Zelda" would be to regard it as an acting exercise. In that context, its reach very properly exceeds its grasp. To judge the potential of the material as a stage piece, it would be necessary to see two more experienced, more appropriate actors perform it. On the other hand, it might be time to let the Fitzgeralds rest in peace.