At the tender age of eight, Truman Capote was a published author. Even at that age, he managed to shock his readers with his true account of “Old Mrs. Busybody,” an obese lady who tries to murder her only child. His Alabama neighbors were not amused by his contest winning entry.
Decades later, Capote would have one chapter of his new novel “Answered Prayers” published in Esquire Magazine, where he spilled secrets and alienated many of those closest to him. They accused him of betrayal. Describing himself as “delicate as a pitbull,” he lived his bohemian and colorful life without apology. To climb into Truman Capote’s complex mind, run over to Music Theatre of Connecticut for an intimate, up close and personal visit, courtesy of actor Jeff Gurner, for “Tru,” written from the words and works of Capote by Jay Presson Allen until Sunday, May 9. Performances are in person at MTC, 509 Westport Avenue, Norwalk, route 1 or by streaming. Productions are at 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Call 203-454-3883 for tickets in house ($39-70) or live stream ($28).
Truman Capote was an accomplished writer probably best known for the Audrey Hepburn favorite “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and his true Kansas crime novel “In Cold Blood.” Here we meet him in his apartment at 870 United Nations Plaza in New York City just before Christmas in 1975. He talks to the audience, breaking the fourth wall, about his childhood, how he likes to talk to himself, about himself, and how he has lived all over the world, from the USA to Moscow, Italy and France.
Capote often sought comfort and escape in drugs, pills, alcohol and chocolates to assuage his bouts of loneliness, especially now that he has been abandoned by the socialites he unmasks in his recent revelations in Esquire Magazine. In his distinctive high-pitched voice, he enjoys name dropping his friends like Louie Armstrong, Grace Kelly, Jack and Bobby Kennedy, Tennessee Williams, Marilyn Monroe and Andy Warhol. Proud to be “famous for being fearless,” he is excited that he has lived an astonishing life, even though his male lovers have abandoned him. But whether he is reminiscing about the fruitcakes he and his cousin Sook make for friends, including President Roosevelt when he was a mere lad, or how he likes to wear distinctive hats or tap dance, Jeff Gurner as this literary legend opens his life for examination, admiration or puzzlement.
Directed by Kevin Connors with care, on a detailed set by RJ Romeo, costume design by Diane Vanderkroff, including a Chinese jacket I covet, with stage management by Jim Schilling, “”Tru” will linger long after the curtain symbolically closes. For man who didn’t like to please his enemies but did like to negotiate literary contracts with six figure payouts, Truman Capote lived by his own rules, suffered his own demons and answered to no one but himself.