By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
"Dusk turns the window into a mirror," Capote writes. The aunt dons "a flannel nightgown that smells of last winter's cough syrup." When the pair head out to cut down a Christmas tree, they pick one described as "a brave, handsome brute."
Elaborate sets aren't needed when you get built-in décor like that, but the simple table and old-timey stove in Theatre Too do the job of setting the scene. The white-paneled backdrop, also designed by Schmidt, reveals a series of moving shadows that become integral to the story line.
Toward the end, A Christmas Memory jumps forward in time to when Capote moved away from his beloved aunt. Here, Haynes best uses the avuncular tone of voice familiar to generations of Dallas children from the actor's decades on the air as WFAA-Channel 8 children's show host "Mr. Peppermint." There are sorrowful turns in the story, and Haynes, now in his late 70s, makes sure to soften the impact by working into the sad bits gradually.
A Christmas Memory continues through December 23 at Theatre Too, 214-871-3300.
As an escape from the rush-rush of the holidays, this production delivers the audience back to a distant but still familiar time and place, with the story providing a satisfying emotional payoff at the end. To get to Memory, unfortunately, you have to sit through a silly 15-minute curtain-raiser called A Christmas to Forget by Dallas writer Erik Knapp. It's about a Santa (Haynes) suffering a temporary bout of amnesia. Can't recall much else about that one, which is probably just as well. A Christmas Memory is the one worth remembering.