Ready for your annual overload of sentimental sweetness?
So is Live Theatre Workshop, which opens “Holiday Memories” in previews today.
Only this is not going to be treacly theater — the source material is by Truman Capote. We all know the writer didn’t go for that cavity-inducing stuff.
The play, adapted for the stage by Russell Vandenbroucke, is pulled from two short stories, “The Thanksgiving Visitor” and “A Christmas Memory.”
The joy of this piece is that little is lost in bringing it to the stage — Capote’s often lyrical, biting, language is intact. “The script is basically the short stories, with the words broken out and assigned to characters,” says Rhonda Hallquist, who is directing the production.
The stories harken back to his childhood, which was often lonely and definitely not lavish.
We asked Hallquist to give us some insights about the production:
Her favorite part of the play: “The relationship between this young boy and his favorite distant cousin (the adult Miss Sook). She is described as still being a child, and they can be children together. Though she has childlike qualities, her moral sense is really strong. … I think that relationship is endearing.”
On Capote and the stories: “He’s telling us what informed his early childhood. These episodes were strong enough to remember and powerful enough for him to appreciate. He was 7 (when the stories took place) but he still remembered years and years later. The relationship with Sook was so strong for him.”
How sweet it is: “It doesn’t make my teeth hurt. The (emotion) snuck up on me. I was drawn into the writing, story, relationship, and by the end I realized what had happened — it has a big emotional impact, but it’s not cloyingly sweet.”
Best reason to see the play: “It’s not really about the holidays; it’s about the relationship and Capote’s memory of that relationship. The language lulls you into going along with the story. None of his language is lost in this piece.”
Her feelings about fruitcake (the baking of one is central to the story): “When you hear the recipe for this fruitcake, you’re going to want one.”
Her favorite holiday memory: “When I was able to invite my mother to Christmas dinner at my house for the first time. It was a tiny one-bedroom apartment, but she was able to just sit down and not do anything. I gave her a glass of wine and told her to relax.”