Peterborough Players open summer season with Tru

  • Courtesy Photo—

  • Kraig Swartz as Truman Capote in “Tru” at the Peterborough Players. PHOTO BY WILL HOWELL

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, June 21, 2018 11:27AM

Actor Kraig Swartz brings laughter and light to the life and persona of iconic author turned celebrity Truman Capote on the Peterborough Players’ stage in the one-man show Tru.

Tru, directed by Players’ artistic director Gus Kaikkonen, opened Wednesday and runs through July 1.

It’s an amazing and challenging role for an actor to take on, Swartz said in an interview.

Swartz has done many one-man shows before, but never of a real person, he said. Especially one so many people think they know, in terms of his voice and mannerisms.

“First of all, the script is very funny and also really moving. It’s a real challenge for an actor to balance comedy for a person who’s personal story is so tough,” Swartz said.

There is also the challenge of taking someone who became a caricature of himself into a real person for the audience to relate to.

“As he said in the play, ‘I used to be famous for writing books, but now I’m famous for being famous,’” Swartz said.

Robert Morse originated the role on Broadway in 1989 and there have been movie depictions of Capote by Toby Jones and Philip Seymour Hoffman. So there are other portrayals of Capote the audience may be familiar with, he said.

“I can do a spot-on Capote,” Swartz said, but said that could have become a distraction for the audience. “We found a way to keep the Capote imitation in place, but with a tremendous amount of energy and drive and invention.”

Playwright Jay Presson Allen used the words and works of Capote to write the play, and set it over two night in Dec. 1975, in the writer’s New York City apartment at the United Nations Plaza.

The one-man show is both hilarious and a dramatic, a look at the author at a dark moment in his life, he never fully recovered from.

Back then authors, especially ones like Capote, were rock stars, Swartz said. After finding massive success in the 1960s with his Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood, Capote became a media darling and was welcomed with open arms into New York’s social elite.

“What he did with that fame and sudden money is he became a jet-setter. He joined the ranks of the super-rich,” Capote said. “He did this for about ten years and during that ten years he didn’t have any output. He didn’t produce anything.”

Swartz suspects Capote was feeling pressure to publish and so allowed Esquire Magazine to run chapters from his unfinished novel ‘Answered Prayers.’ Instead of assuring the public of his writing chops and cementing his legacy, he was immediately cut-off from New York high society for spilling their secrets. In some instances he used peoples real names in the stories, and in other their identifies are thinly veiled.

“He exposed really tawdry affairs and iffy financial doings in a very comedic way. These stories are very funny,” Swartz said. “All of high society turned their back on him.”

The play opens the night before Christmas Eve as Capote struggles with his alcoholism, pill popping and loneliness.

“He’s at home and for the first time in his life the phone has stopped ringing,” Swartz said.

Swartz captures Capote and the most poignant and dark moments of Tru with an energy that keeps the one-man show flowing as a delightful insight into Capote and his life and the stories he told. 

“What I find really moving about Truman Capote, I don’t know if I would have liked him if I met him in real life, but I think I would have had a lot of compassion for him,” Swartz said.

The Players’ box office can be reached at 603-924-7585 or online at www.peterboroughplayers.org . The play is rated PG -13.  Tickets are $42.