"The Plaza Hotel, New York, 28 November 1966. Truman Capote, literary star and author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood, is hosting his famous Black and White Ball. The writer brings Washington power-brokers, Hollywood stars, society hostesses, fashion editors and pop artists, poets and musical celebrities to the party of the century. One hour before the ball begins, Capote holes up in his room. The Ballad of Truman Capote is the resulting monologue, a tragi-comical memory play depicting the highs and lows of the invented life, and the price of fame."
Set 'in-the-round', the audience literally surrounds Capote as he paces, ponders and generally avoids people from the seclusion and comfort of his hotel suite. Knocks at his door go unanswered as he knocks back a cocktail or two. He does however answer the phone, giving only curt guidance as to who should be permitted into the party and who is definitely not welcome. He's opinionated and resolute. Not there to enforce his wishes in person, instead he relies on whichever unfortunate aide is at the end of the phoneline to run the show.
Perhaps not the intention, but I took this as an avoidance tactic. I too would rather be alone in a lavish hotel suite than face crowds of people! Is he also drinking to calm his nerves? Either way, alone and becoming less and less sober, Capote begins to reminisce about his life. He passes comment on everything from the beautiful people arriving at the ball, to the reception and interpretation of his book 'In Cold blood'. It's a one-man, one-way gossip session and it felt a little like watching a caged animal at the zoo.
Patrick Moy is exceptional as Capote. From what I know of Capote, Moy gets his voice and mannerisms spot on. His high-pitched, effeminate, southern accent is distinct and must be difficult to maintain. He never falls into parody though; he's entirely convincing and captivating. Moy also does a fantastic job of never staying still for too long; always moving, always turning to ensure that no section of the audience faces his back for too long. It's a considered performance that must be exhausting! Writer and Director Andrew O'Hagan wished for his audiences to spend an intimate hour alone with Truman Capote, and baring the invention of resurrection, this is a close as you're ever likely to get.
Beside that, there isn't too much else to the play. No great reveals, no build of tension or revelation. It's simply a surveillance exercise; an hour that gives us a voyeuristic glimpse into one man's racing, often cruel, mind. I enjoyed it, and I really appreciate the quality of the acting, directing and production, but it isn't my favourite of this author's work.
Writer and director Andrew O’Hagan said:
“As an author, Truman Capote caught something essential about the 20th century. I’ve always been fascinated by him. He was a great stylist, a courageous little human being, and a witness to some of the great events and personalities of the age. So I wanted to get him onstage. I want audiences to have an intimate hour with one of the most original, funny, and troubling characters of recent times. We live in the age of self-invention, and here he is—the Inventor of Self-Invention.”
“I don’t care what anybody says about me so long as it isn’t true.”
“You can’t blame a writer for what the characters say.”
When and Where?
Venue: TheSpaceUK, Upper Theatre, Niddry Street
Dates: 4th - 26th August
Tme: 18:05 (55 mins)
Age Guidance: 12+
📸 Photo credit:
Andrew O’Hagan has three times been nominated for the Booker Prize and has won book awards from the LA Times and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His latest novel Mayflies was a bestseller and a series on BBC1; his book Be Near Me was adapted by the National Theatre of Scotland and ran at the Donmar Warehouse; and his play The Missing was mounted at the Tramway Theatre in Glasgow. The Ballad of Truman Capote receives its premiere at Edinburgh.
Lindsey Milligan has worked in theatre for over twenty years. A graduate of Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, she has been Stage & Company Manager in productions all over the world. She is now an Partner at Savages Personal Management talent agency and an independent producer, based in London and Scotland.
Patrick Moy trained at RADA. Theatre work includes Joyce’s Women, Hamlet, The Importance of Being Earnest, She Stoops to Conquer, A Life (Abbey Theatre, Dublin),The Treaty (Fishamble/ National Concert Hall, Dublin/Embassy of Ireland, London), A Holy Show (Verdant Productions/Mermaid Theatre/Pleasance, Edinburgh/Peacock, Dublin),The Omission of the Family Coleman (Ustinov Studio, Theatre Royal Bath),The Weir (Sherman, Cardiff/Tobacco Factory, Bristol), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (AFTLS, US tour/Cockpit, London), The Sound of Music, Abigail’s Party, Translations, The Lieutenant of Inishmore (Curve, Leicester), Richard ll (Ouroboros/Everyman, Cork/Peacock, Dublin), Anglo the Musical (Verdant Productions/Kite Entertainment/Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin), The Playboy of the Western World, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Glass Menagerie (Lyric, Belfast),The Madness of George lll (Theatre Royal Bath/West End),The Taming of the Shrew (RSC/West End),The Merchant of Venice (RSC), Titus Andronicus, The Comedy of Errors(Shakespeare’s Globe), The Duchess of Malfi, The Revenger’s Tragedy (Loose Canon, Dublin), Elizabeth (Kabosh, Belfast), Amadeus (Ouroboros, Dublin),The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Cripple of Inishmaan (Leicester Haymarket), The Clearing (Shared Experience), King Matt (TAG, Glasgow), The Playboy of the Western World, Peter Pan, Macbeth, Lovers (Lyceum, Edinburgh), Macbeth (Battersea Arts Centre, London).
Film & TV work includes Official Secrets (Classified Films),The Daisy Chain (Subotica Entertainment), The Big Bow Wow(TV3) and voicing a regular character on Footy Pups (CBeebies). Radio work includes plays for BBC and RTÉ. He has narrated over thirty audiobooks. He was nominated for Best Male Performance at the Dublin Fringe Festival and for the Ian Charleson Award and shortlisted for Best Voice Performance at the British Animation Awards .As a writer, he has been published in the Bridport Prize Anthology.
Northern Line is anew production company from Scottish husband-and-wife team, novelist and playwright Andrew O’Hagan and producer and actors’ agent, Lindsey Milligan. The company is interested in fresh subjects and new talent, aiming to produce work for stage, television, film, and podcast. 'The British Isles is a pretty under-described territory, ’says co-director, Andrew O’Hagan. 'There are lives being lived and secret histories which exist that have never been caught or dramatised. That’s why Lindsey and I founded the firm, to encourage those new voices and to use our joint experience in capturing these stories.’ With footholds in London and Ayrshire, Northern Line Productions already has several projects in development.
🌟REVIEW - The Ballad of Truman Capote (Theatre) [Andrew O'Hagan, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023]🌟
🎟️ Disclosure: I am an Edinburgh Festival Fringe accredited media reviewer and as such I receive complimentary press tickets in exchange for my honest reviews. My reviews and star ratings are always my honest opinions.
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