If the sight of the despondent Dorothy Parker on the show’s logo made you think this show would be depressing, then you may accuse its author and performer Lesley Abrams of false representation. Abrams’ post mortem Dorothy is surprisingly cheery throughout the evening.
The Tucson actress enthusiastically tosses off Parker’s famous quips. There are plenty of them and they’re all good – here’s a taste: “If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to. “ “That woman speaks eighteen languages, and can’t say No in any of them.” and, of course, there is Dorothy rising to the challenge to use use of horticulture in a sentence.
Delivery of such perfectly polished lines requires simply a certain drollness. But the actress, perfect in her grey checked cocktail dress, choker of pearls and French twist, shows her best form when drunk – or rather when her characters are. The play includes women from three of Parker’s short stories, and Parker herself who imbibes at a steady clip throughout the show, closing it once she has drained the crystal decanter of its scotch.
But if you’re like me, it’s the days of the Algonquin Hotel’s Round Table, “the Vicious Circle” she called it, and her friendships with writers Alexander Woollcott and Robert Benchley that you’ll be listening for -and Parker recounts some very funny stories, touchingly told.
The cheeriness becomes a little disconcerting when we get into those murky waters of lost loves, appearance before the McCarthy hearings and Parker’s three suicide attempts. Or learn that the ashes for this woman who was once the toast of New York, lingered in someone’s file cabinet for 15 years.
It’s her activism that Abrams wants us most to know about. So aside from the brilliant quips and poems, we learned that Dorothy Parker worked to create the Writer’s Guild, the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League, and left the rights to all her works to Dr. Martin Luther King.
Dorothy Parker’s Last Call is in the performance room of Busboys and Poets,5th & K Streets, which is one of a series of restaurants celebrating the works of Langston Hughes and other writers. Dorothy would have approved. And you can order drinks.
Dorothy Parker’s Last Call
written and performed by Lesley Abrams
directed by Glen Coffman
produced by Winding Road Theater Ensemble
reviewed by Lorraine Treanor
Read all the reviews and check out the full Capital Fringe schedule here.
Did you see the show? What did you think?