From three-time Booker Prize-nominated novelist Andrew O’Hagan, the literary life of Truman Capote is handed to us in the most exuberant, narcissistic and depressing form. A play that encapsulates the persona of a writer troubled by status, ego and substance abuse, The Ballad of Truman Capote is a nuanced tale written and directed by O’Hagan.
Starring Patrick Moy as Capote, it’s a one-man play that relies on the ring of the telephone, gossip, and monologue to hold the attention of the audience for the hour. Look away for spoilers but there is no Norman Mailer or Gore Vidal in our eyeshot, though we are situated in the New York Plaza Hotel in 1966. We witness just a section of the hotel that sees Capote organise the lead-up to The Black and White Ball, before descending into his own dismal digression. This leaves the audience with little in the way of life-affirming thoughts as they make haste out of the Radisson Hotel next to the Royal Mile.
Moy is marvellous as the wallowing American writer, who aims to throw the party of the century. This dithering oral ballad focuses on his upsetting Alabama childhood growing up with parents that would abandon him. He also reflects on what he aspired to achieve with In Cold Blood. Moy’s Capote possesses a great deal of the troubled writer, and it’s surprising what the short hour can offer up in terms of this renowned literary life.