It is always exciting to see a new perspective on a famous writer – and this play offered us a take on F Scott Fitzgerald from the point of his neurotic and unfulfilled wife, Zelda (played by Gabriella Sills) – once described as the original flapper girl. The hedonistic, alcoholic haze which became the febrile daily life of the Fitzgeralds was here concentrated into a One Act play, veering between Zelda’s time in an asylum (she was diagnosed as schizophrenic) and the apartment she shared with Scott, her boozed-up husband (played by the multi-talented Laurence Kilsby). Their traumatic relationship – intruded upon by Earnest Hemingway and his wife (maturely played by Orlando Giannini and Maddie Dunn) – and wild behaviour was the talk of New York: the couple were frequently thrown out of the best hotels in Manhattan for drunkenness and debauchery. In the play, Zelda shared her asylum with another inmate (madly played by Polina Kalashnikova) and suffered the indignity of molestation from the hospital doctor. This woman had little luck in her life, really. Finally, we were left with an ambivalent sympathy for Zelda and her self-destructive sybaritic lifestyle: one felt that Beautiful Little Fool was apposite – a lovely nod towards Gatsby and the self-centred Daisy of Jay Gatsby’s idealised and unfulfilled yearnings. The parallels were clear.

Gabriella Sills’ short play was superbly well researched – the details of their lives not so much compressed into this piece, but rather given flavour in a series of vignette-flashbacks: we get the gist early on when we see Fitzgeraldsnorting coke on his wife’s thigh. The standard of writing by Gabriella Sills (who is still only 17)was – to say the least – impressive. Dean Close Drama Department are proud of the fact that the

piece is being entered for the NationalSchools Drama Festival – a nationwide competition – and the play

was being judged at its premiere by Professor Alexandra Spencer-Jones, Artistic Director of Action To The Word Theatre Company and who also teaches at Cambridge University and Brown University, USA.