By Sophie Yalkezian
HUDSON — Every Capital Region town has a Christmas tradition that gathers the community together. It may be a treelighting ceremony, or a stroll through a decked-out, lit-up neighborhood. For Hudson, the newest ritual cementing itself is the annual December run of Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory” at the Park Theater. The performance runs through Saturday, December 23rd and we were lucky enough to see it opening weekend.
Produced by The Whale Theater in association with the Tectonic Theater Project, the show made its Park Theater debut in 2022. This winter, it consists of two Capote plays that are each given an equal one-hour run time with a 15-minute intermission between them: "The Thanksgiving Visitor" followed by "A Christmas Memory". The run was extended by several days after selling out last year, though history may soon repeat itself.
Both works follow Buddy, a seven-year-old boy, and the elderly cousin whom he refers to solely as “my friend”. The two are outcasted among peers their own age but find home in each other, both figuratively and literally as they share an old family country house.
These outcasts are exquisitely played by Broadway and screen veterans Peter Frechette and Marceline Hugot, directed by Tectonic Theater’s Matt Joslyn. Hugot starred in the same show last year, but felt especially motivated to return knowing Frechette had been cast. The two have been real-life friends and colleagues for years, and the chemistry they share on stage continues off it as well.
Each of these Capote works gets to the heart of a character’s hurt. In “The Thanksgiving Visitor”, we learn of Buddy’s schoolyard bully who attends a family dinner and ends up revealing more truth than Buddy is ready for. On stage, Peter Frechette moved seamlessly between eloquent narration and Buddy’s angst-ridden dialogue, transcending time between lines of text.
“A Christmas Memory” centers Buddy’s friend as he remembers holidays past with her, making fruitcakes and chopping down their Christmas tree. Instead of schoolyard altercations, it’s bible verses and a fear of judgement that weave her cocoon of a sheltered home life. Hugot brought a soulful innocence to the character while elevating the story with flourishes of creative live foley.
These stories were well-suited to Hudson, long known for having been a refuge to New York City “outcasts” of every stripe. Joyful and melancholy all at once, this production left its audience with warmed hearts and wet eyes as it ended with a recognition of our mortality, and the way our friendships and love stay on earth long after we’re gone.
This magnificent performance is sure to outshine any holiday plans you've already made. Get your tickets to see “The Thanksgiving Visitor” and “A Christmas Memory” through the Park Theater’s website now.