Conversations in the Life: WARHOLCAPOTE

Stephen Spinella and Dan Butler as Andy Warhol and Truman Capote. Photo: Gretjen Helene Photography

Presented by the A.R.T.
From the words of Truman Capote and Andy Warhol
Adapted by Rob Roth
Directed by Michael Mayer

Sept. 10 – Oct. 13, 2017
Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
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Review by Kitty Drexel

(Cambridge, MA) I wanted to enjoy WarholCapote more than I did. The script is adapted from actual conversations between two venerated artists of the 20th Century. I anticipated that it might offer some insight into their unique personas. And for some who watch this play, it will. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, WarholCapote is a two man show about two famous artists name dropping and gossiping like two grandpas at a checkerboard. It’s not for everyone, but it could be for you.

Warhol (Stephen Spinella) and Capote (Dan Butler) recorded over 80 hours of cassette tapes in the hopes that they might write together a Broadway play. While this never happened, the tapes still exist. Rob Roth found the tapes, and, using recordings and transcripts, molded them into a 90 minute play about their creative process. The finished product is WarholCapote.

In real life, Andy Warhol stalked Truman Capote until Capote agreed to meet Warhol. Capote took Warhol’s stalking in pride. On the stage, Spinella and Butler weave a simpatico chemistry that make these notoriously eccentric (i.e. difficult) personalities appear downright amiable. There’s an enviable platonic intimacy between the two.  

The wig and makeup work (by Charles G LaPointe and Cookie Jordan respectively) transports the actors into their roles. The men are nearly unrecognizable under the artifice. LaPointe and Jordan haven’t created the artists. They have captured who they were.

WarholCapote could very well be a stagnant 90 minute play during which the actors sit around the table without getting up. The energy in this production is still otherwise low. Director Michael Mayer gave them something to do, and provided necessary movement to the piece. We have him and lighting designer Kevin Adams to thank for the few dramatic ups and downs we witness.

In theory, WarholCapote is a fascinating project. Here are two men who lived hyperbolically. The A.R.T. executes many excellent technical elements in this production. Unfortunately for this critic, it isn’t enough to entertain or inspire for longer than 30 minutes. Yet, I’m grateful it was only 90 minutes long.


Queen’s Note:
We elected a thin-skinned Nazi to the office of the President who is turning our “democracy” into a fascist, totalitarian oligarchy dominated by the 1%. Trump is a monster. His policies, when he names them, are destructive. His narcissistic behavior is more so.

Congressional “negotiators” released a spending bill that saves the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for Humanities, and National Public Radio until September at which time, the President and his impotent cronies may still cut arts funding. It is ever important to remain vigilant. And, for the love of all that’s sacred, keep creating. If you need help, ask for it. Our existence is our resistance. May the force be with you. – KD

TCG has a list of things you can do to help.

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