San Diego's Jazz

Pat Launer, Center Stage

Funding for "Center Stage" is provided in part by Judy Strick.
  • “TRU” – Diversionary Theatre

    “TRU” – Diversionary Theatre

    He knew everyone and told everything. That was a source of pride for him – no one could name-drop like Truman Capote – but it could be a source of pain, too.

    When he was 8, living in Monroeville, Alabama, he published his first story, a three-installment fictionalized exposé of the local townsfolk. It caused so much havoc, the second two installments were never put in print. Nearly half a century later, he’s done it again – exposed his friends in a tell-all memoir that was partly pre-printed in Esquire magazine.

    In Jay Presson Allen’s drama, “Tru,” it’s 1975, and Capote is persona non grata in New York society, where he’d long been a colorful appendage of the rich and famous. Despite several award-winning books, most notably, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “In Cold Blood,” he admits to being “famous for being famous.”

    When we meet him, at age 51, he’s a sad alcoholic, a lonely old queen on Christmas Eve, telling us all about his life, though it’s never clear exactly who we’re supposed to be.

    At Diversionary Theatre, Capote’s apartment, with its drop-dead view of the Manhattan skyline, doesn’t scream either gay or New York. The writer was a collector of many odd things, but there’s no sense of style or even eccentricity here.

    As Capote, Todd Blakesley gives it his all, but he could be far more fey and whiney, as the writer was known to be, and more flamboyant and pathetic. We don’t laugh enough with him or ache enough for him.

    Under the direction of Derek Livingstone the pace could be a tad perkier, and the character could be plumbed more deeply. I clearly remember seeing the original Broadway production with Robert Morse, and it kind of broke my heart. So sad to see someone so singular slide so low. But, in true tragic fashion, it was hubris – not to mention his drinking and dishing – that brought him down.

    Given Blakesley’s lifetime of theatrical dedication and capability, I’m pretty sure that, as the run progresses, the true nature of Truman will emerge.

    “Tru” runs through December 21, at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights.

    Aired: 12/12/2014 9:01:00 AM

    Copyright © 2014 Pat Launer

  • GLOBE FOR ALL – The Old Globe

    GLOBE FOR ALL – The Old Globe

    The Old Globe is takin’ it to the streets. Well, maybe not the streets, but out of the theater box and into the community.

    Renowned producer Joseph Papp created the Mobile Shakespeare program in 1957, and decades later, Globe artistic director Barry Edelstein re-animated Mobile Shakespeare while he was at The Public Theatre, bringing the Bard to underserved communities.

    This fall, he tried out the concept in San Diego, with Globe for All, a free touring production of a Shakespeare play, brought to such varied venues as a military base, centers for the elderly, a homeless shelter and a correctional facility.

    The 90-minute production featured a cast of 10 professional actors, including recent alumni of the Old Globe/University of San Diego graduate theater program. Each facility was offered a one-hour pre-show workshop about the language, themes, characters and plot of the play.

    The intention, said Edelstein, is to “overcome whatever barriers – economic, geographical or cultural” prohibit some community members from seeing or appreciating Shakespeare. “Theater in general, and Shakespeare in particular, are necessary to living a full and rich life,” says Edelstein, who directed the project’s first production, “All’s Well That Ends Well.”

    I saw the streamlined show at Father Joe’s Villages, San Diego’s largest residential service provider for the homeless. What was most impressive, besides the talent and commitment of the cast, was how well they interacted with the audience (dogs, infants and all), and how rapt most of the spectators seemed to be, catching all the humor and commenting freely on the action. It was a very exciting and energizing experience.

    If the Globe can once again secure funding from local Foundations, it intends to repeat the process next year, with another play and director.

    Here’s a toast to the Old Globe for helping to bring theater to every corner of our diverse county. Bravo!

    The newly-launched Globe for All will, hopefully, be an ongoing, annual program of the Old Globe.

    Aired: 12/5/2014 9:01:00 AM

    Copyright © 2014 Pat Launer

For an archive of all of Pat's reviews, going back to 1990, use the 'search' function at

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