Holiday shows can make you as sick as a child after a night alone with a gingerbread house, and Theater Rhino seems headed that way with its Staged Reading of Truman Capotes A Christmas Memory. The storyline is overloaded with syrup: There's a young boy and his old friend living in an old house in an old country town. She exclaims, Its fruitcake weather! and they set about baking fruitcakes. They collect pecans, they buy liquor, they cook up a storm! Then they tramp through a snowy forest to cut down the best Christmas tree in the whole damn world. They decorate it with homemade ornaments. The dog gets a wrapped bone. They make their own presents -- kites, just like last year. Presented as a play, it could leave you retching. But here's the thing: Theater Rhino teamed up with Word for Word for the reading, and Word for Word stages work using every last word of the short stories it draws from. And when you read Capotes story word for word, an amazing thing happens you find it shorn, entirely, of sentimentality, and you are gobsmacked, entirely, by that mans talent. It's a high-wire act, made all the more impressive by the fact that A Christmas Memory is autobiographical, drawn from his lonely childhood, with his old friend based on his eccentric cousin Sook Faulk.
Mon., Dec. 15, 7 p.m., 2008