Great literary figures collide in this monologue biography of Truman Capote, as written by Scottish author Andrew O’Hagan, the writer of Mayflies.
It’s his debut play, which is a big deal, and the performance we saw had the capacity audience to prove it. Yet these are also modest circumstances in which O’Hagan can test the theatrical waters; not at the Traverse or the International Festival, but in a converted function room in a Royal Mile hotel. A proper Fringe debut.
Writer and director, O’Hagan and the play’s sole performer Patrick Moy imbue the whole enterprise with a touch of class. The setting is New York’s Plaza Hotel in November 1966, just before Capote’s Black and White Ball at the same location, the famed ‘Party of the Century’ which united the literati, film stars and international grandees of the era in a definitive event of the American 20th century. Capote waits in his hotel room, fielding calls about the infamous guestlist, reflecting on his life and dropping names like Hemingway, Parker and Arthur Miller into anecdotes told for his own benefit.
Moy’s performance is note-perfect, nailing the impudent falsetto of Capote’s voice, and a certain tone of bold confidence mixed with creeping self-doubt which ties with his public persona; and, of course, his failure to write a follow-up to 1965’s In Cold Blood in his subsequent two decades of life. The beauty of the picture being painted, however, masks a certain dramatic inertia to proceedings. We feel we know Capote more by the end, but we wonder if this interior journey might not have worked at least as well were it printed as prose on the page.