Last Call at The Aardvark

by Paul Stroili

The Bronx, 1935. The end of prohibition turned all the speakeasies into legitimate nightclubs, if you want to call The Aardvark Club legitimate. Honey has worn nearly every hat you can wear; slinging drinks, cooking the books, but at the end of the day, she’s a stripper. Most people come and go like ghosts, but it’s hard to miss Zack, an aspiring comic who performs at the club.  Zack’s got some talent. He might even amount to something. So why did he have to tell that joke? One bad joke, about Frankie’s girl, no less – and club owner Frankie is not known for his sense of humor. Now Frankie has given Honey one more job to juggle. She’s got to help Zack build a whole new act for an audience of one. And as they say in comedy; “You either kill, or you just die up there.”

  • Cast Size: 2M 1W
  • Running Time: 90+ minutes
  • Royalty Rate: $75 per performance

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About the Playwright

Paul Stroili’s autobiographical solo show Straight Up with a Twist toured the U.S. for nearly ten years, culminating in a twice-extended Off-Broadway run.  Stroili’s playwriting credits include A Jukebox for the Algonquin, Last Call at The Aardvark, Cheese Louise (with Maureen Morley), Plane Crazy (with Cissy Conner), and My Dinner with Arlecchino. His screenplay for the film The Beating was utilized by Columbia College in their course of study on short filmmaking. Stroili’s writing has also appeared in Los Angeles Magazine and the Chicago Tribune. Recently, he served as Executive Producer for the feature film, Wake., currently in distribution through Gravitas Ventures.  While residing in Los Angeles, he was a faculty member in the UCLA Entertainment Studies program.  He currently lives in his adopted hometown of Chicago.  He is a proud member of Actors’ Equity, the Screen Actors Guild and The Dramatists Guild, as well as being a resident artist at The Purple Rose Theatre, founded by Jeff Daniels.

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 (13 votes)
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Rory Z

Fantastic play

Such a good read. Made me want to sip a martini as I time travel back to NY in the 30’s. Characters are well fleshed out and the dialogue weaves a very compelling tale about life in the clubs almost 100 years ago. Enjoyed reading this very much and I look forward to what the author Mr. Stroili comes up with next.

3 weeks ago
Oscar Jordan

It Percolates and Pops!

Saying Paul Stoili has a way with words would be a huge understatement. If you like weighty characters that snap, crackle, and pop and dialogue that cuts like a serial killer, you’re in the right place. It’s a trip back to 1935 with all the fixins’. Stroili paints with mood, the sweetest vernacular, and the zeitgeist of the period with substance, humor, and zeal. Bravo.

2 weeks ago
John L

Exploring the fine line between comedy with cruelty

The playwright has the gift of giving voice to believable and intriguing characters. Especially voices from almost 100 years ago. This one makes me wish I had the codeword to get into every speakeasy in town. Not only has he created three great characters, he has also crafted a story that is funny, and fearsome in equal measure.

2 weeks ago
Joe L

This is a show to produce!

This script was a great read with fast pacing, tight dialog and lots of little touches to put you in the world of the Aardvark and its inhabitants. If you are looking for a great-three actor show that will keep the audience talking well after they leave the theater, this is the one for you.

2 weeks ago
Paul Buxton

Terrific play with wonderful characters

‘Last Call at the Aardvark” is a funny, clever, and ultimately very touching play about a group of vivid characters all facing, in one way or another, their “last call.” Strolli’s use of language, which embraces the poetry of 30’s New York crime slang, serves both the story and it’s people in many surprising and delightful ways. “Aardvark” draws the audience into a seedy post-Prohibition world of old speak-easys and burlesque reminiscent of “Guys and Dolls.” A great read and, with a cast of three memorable characters, highly performable.

2 weeks ago
Kevin T.

Fantastic Three-Hander

This play jumps right off the page. Visceral, funny, moving and original, Mr. Stroili has created a wonderful, three-dimensional world and the characters that inhabit it are alternately charming, menacing and hilarious. One set, three characters and a tight, lean writing style make this play ideal for a small, intimate theatre. Highly recommend.

2 weeks ago
Kerr Lockhart

More tricks up his sleeve

Sure, the magician never actually appears on stage in LAST CALL AT THE AARDVARK, but playwright Paul Stroili keeps pulling the rabbits out of his hat until the Twist (you know, the dame, the frail) pulls a final twist.

I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for the Broadway rat-a-tat-tat talk of Hecht and MacArthur, Damon Runyon and the like, and Stroili’s ear is perfect for that patois. And he sets the audience up for a sucker punch, leading us along the garden path thinking we’re going to see a story about a half-baked comic trying to fix his flailing act with a help of a big-hearted stripper. But there is much more going on here — much, much more. The noose is tightened, but not the way you thought it would be, and the coup de grace is, well, what can you call it but a coup de theatre.

Theaters looking for a dazzling showpiece for a trio of actors ready to play at the top of their game should really give a good hard squint at LAST CALL AT THE AARDVARK.

2 weeks ago
Tracy Petry

Direct Hit

BANG! A direct hit from Paul Stroili! The atmosphere enveloped me from the first line and drew me right back in time. The sharp dialogue and vivid characters held me there in New York until the very last page. This play is perfection for live theatre, waiting to happen.

2 weeks ago
Michelle Mountain

Absolutely a Must-Read

LAST CALL AT THE AARDVARK is one of those rare scripts- funny, full of suspense, heart felt -and endearing. Mr. Stroili’s characters leap from the page into our hearts from the get-go, taking us with them through every twist and turn. Mr. Stroili knocks it out of the proverbial park with this (single-set)compelling three-hander.

2 weeks ago
Steve McGarry

I saw the play in my head

The play just jumped off the page to the point where I read through this twice – and honestly – I was able to picture the characters, the stage, the set, the drummer and bass player and instead of reading the script, I would “heard” the dialogue and picture each character almost as though as I watching the play. Funny, sad and shocking all at the same time. Paul Stroili shows you the magician he is with this play – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

2 weeks ago
John Dalesandro

Less is definitely More!

Mr. Stroili captures the urban grit of New York in the mid 30’s at a break neck pace while presenting incredibly detailed characters and atmosphere with whip smart, lightening fast dialog that combines humor and poignancy in the style of David Mamet. The final plot twist is on the money! Can’t wait to see this production!

2 weeks ago
Cyrus Mirakhor

Shaken. Stirred. And dreaming of the 30’s.

Stunning dialogue with quick paced action, then BOOM, it’s over… and all you want is more.

It’s shocking to realize this story was told by only three characters. The world Stroili creates within ‘The Aardvark’ is so rich I was convinced I knew everyone on the block, and was ready to step out the door, grab a paper from my buddy at the local newsstand, then sit down at the diner for a five cent cuppa Joe. If only Stroili could translate my everyday life into 1930’s vernacular things would be so much richer.

And that ending? You’ll never see it coming. Go get ‘em Honey!

1 week ago


Read AARDVARK twice to capture things I missed the first time. The dialogue is tight. The setting and feel for the period is spot on. The ending? Fuhgeddaboudit, know what I mean? Funny, touching, and a little scary. Actors will have a wonderful time filling in the spaces Mr. Stroili has artfully left for them. This is not a huge, complicated, production. It is a brilliant gem.

6 days ago
D. Terry Williams, Chair Emeritus of Theatre, Western Michigan University

Three Absolutely Engaging Characters

What starts out as a vaudeville of one-liners escalates into an unpredictable melodrama delivered by three compelling characters: a young, Jewish stand-up comic, an experienced and sassy stripper and a sleezey club owner.
I couldn’t put the script down.

5 days ago

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