Students at Miami University may not understand why Zelda and Scott stay together. In 2022 we view celebrity relationships as ephemeral. Social media viewers are bombarded with breakups and hookups every day. We witness celebrities spiraling downward, destroying their own empires of fashion and storytelling. Angel’s Trumpet, written by Canadian Sharon Pollock, shares the fascinating story of a celebrity couple from almost 100 years ago, bound together by society’s norms yet each struggling to escape.
Angel’s Trumpet is a study of the Fitzgeralds, focused on Zelda. She was a wild child from Alabama who grew up to run with some of the brightest minds and best liquor of the Jazz Age. At a time when nice women did not drink, she drank, she partied, and she danced. She “knew the edge was more interesting than the middle.” She lived life to the fullest – until she married Scott, the play reveals. With his traditional views of manhood, he saw himself as 100% in control of her body, mind, reproduction, time, and creative output. This play asserts he used her words and ideas for the Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night.
Directed by senior Charlotte Perez, we meet a silent Zelda at the beginning of a conversation between Scott (Seth Cousin) and her psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Renton (Max Kaufman). The conversation is being transcribed by the also silent Miss Laheursa (Elise McGann). The couple’s story is spun and the audience knits together snippets of the forces that bring Zelda and Scott together and force them apart time and time again. The ending is beautifully staged and written.
Sophomore Mallory Styles is Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald. She has a lithe dancer’s body, pulling focus while sneaking on little cat feet around the perimeter of the action or whirling into the center like a tornado. She melts into a protector’s arms or rails against him. Her silence shows she has discovered a way to gain control in a world in which Scott feels he owns all words–due both to his maleness and success as an author.
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald is well played by Seth Cousin, who channels the intensity, ego, and the character’s fascination with language. I look forward to witnessing the growth of this talented freshman. His gaslighting of Zelda is quite disturbing, and his power plays with the psychiatrist show a man presenting as calm while hiding deep insecurities. I wish he was directed to be more intentional in his movement; it was often hard to focus with he and Zelda meandering on the stage.
The rest of the student production crew includes Scene Design by Jonathan Erwin (kudos to the Brancusi-esque statue) and Costume Design by Maura Kesterson (women’s tight and controlled hair contrast with the men’s hair). Solid work from Lighting Design by Marly Wooster, Sound by Shikage Qin, and Choreography by Emily Stowers. Miami always has strong dramaturgy, and in this show Macy Armagost paints the era well.
Angel’s Trumpet is a thought provoking, yet disturbing presentation of passion and control. It is recommended for anyone who needs a reminder that women “count.” It runs through October 26-30 at Miami’s Studio Theatre. Click HERE for more information and tickets.
Content Warning: Discussion of abortion, domestic violence, addiction and physical restraint.
Liz Eichler has a BA and MTA in Theatre, and an MBA in Marketing. She’s been both a Professional Costumer and Marketer, and has taught at multiple colleges and universities in multiple states for over 20 years. Liz is a past-president of LCT and has been involved for over 10 years.