Pat Launer, Center Stage on KSDS JAZZ88
December 12, 2014
He knew everyone and told everything. That was a source of pride for him – no one could name-drop like Truman Capote – but it could be a source of pain, too.
When he was 8, living in Monroeville, Alabama, he published his first story, a three-installment fictionalized exposé of the local townsfolk. It caused so much havoc that the second two installments were never put in print. Nearly half a century later, he’s done it again – exposed his friends in a tell-all memoir that was partly pre-printed in Esquire magazine.
In Jay Presson Allen’s drama, “ Tru ,” it’s 1975, and Capote is persona non grata in New York society, where he’d long been a colorful appendage of the rich and famous. Despite several award-winning books, most notably, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “In Cold Blood,” he admits to being “famous for being famous.”
When we meet him, at age 51, he’s a sad alcoholic, a lonely old queen on Christmas Eve, telling us all about his life, though it’s never clear exactly who we’re supposed to be.
At Diversionary Theatre, Capote’s apartment, with its drop-dead view of the Manhattan skyline, doesn’t scream either gay or New York. The writer was a collector of many odd things, but there’s no sense of style or even eccentricity here.
As Capote, Todd Blakesley gives it his all, but he could be far more fey and whiney, as the writer was known to be, and more flamboyant and pathetic. We don’t laugh enough with him or ache enough for him.
Under the direction of Derek Livingstone the pace could be a tad perkier, and the character could be plumbed more deeply. I clearly remember seeing the original Broadway production with Robert Morse, and it kind of broke my heart. So sad to see someone so singular slide so low. But, in true tragic fashion, it was hubris – not to mention his drinking and dishing – that brought him down.
Given Blakesley’s lifetime of theatrical dedication and capability, I’m pretty sure that, as the run progresses, the true nature of Truman will emerge.
“ Tru ” runs through December 21, at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights.
©2014 PAT LAUNER