Holiday Memories

December 10, 2012

in Plays

Play (1991)

Staged Version by Russell Vandenbroucke

based on the stories
A Christmas Memory (1956)
The Thanksgiving Visitor (1967)
by Truman Capote

Directed by Michael Hammond

New Repertory Theatre
Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA

December 9-23, 2012

With Marc Carver (Truman), Michael John Ciszewski (Buddy), Adrianne Krstansky (Miss Sook), Jesse Hinson (Man), Elizabeth Anne Rimar (Woman)

Sook and Buddy

Adrianne Krstansky as Miss Sook
John Ciszewski as Buddy
Photo: Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures
Courtesy New Repertory Theatre

Two autobiographical tales with a holiday focus, about Truman Capote as a young boy.

Both of these tales take place in the home in which Capote lived as a young boy, away from his parents, with relatives in Alabama. His closest association during this phase of his life is with his older cousin, Miss Sook, a single woman in her sixties.

In the first tale, young Truman – dubbed “Buddy” by Sook – confronts a neighborhood bully who comes to Thanksgiving dinner, with surprising results. In the second tale, Buddy and Miss Sook prepare for Christmas in the best way they can given severe impoverishment.

These delightfully rendered tales are, despite a minimal amount of action, engaging from start to finish.

The two Trumans – John Ciszewski as the boy, Buddy, and Marc Carver as the elder Truman, the narrator – are to be credited with bringing much of this to life. Carver’s narration is exquisitely paced and beautifully nuanced and articulated, and Ciszewski’s Buddy offers a childlike innocence and vulnerability that is completely believable. Both characters embody the accent expertly and one genuinely feels they are two halves of the same character.

The real Truman Capote as a young boy and Miss Sook

The real Truman Capote as a young boy
and Miss Sook

Adrianne Krstansky does a reasonable job as Miss Sook, sometimes more compellingly conveying the Southern accent than at other times. She does get across the sense of the withdrawn older woman very well, and one certainly can derive from it the intimate but unusual relationship she has with the young Truman.

The writing of the stories, beautifully preserved in this adaptation, is striking and eloquent. Capote’s words have a blunt charm to them, often conveying their meanings with a straightforward wit, a bit reminiscent of Mark Twain.

The Thanksgiving tale, in particular, has a moral punch to it that is effective and penetrating.

On arrival, I wondered whether I was in for a sappier holiday show and was pleasantly surprised by a holiday show, but one that was wry, tautly humorous, and not sappy at all.

– BADMan

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