The story opens with a gentle exclaim: "It's fruitcake weather!" Sook, a 60-something Southern woman, and Buddy, a young boy, embark on their yearly Christmas ritual: baking holiday fruitcakes. The tenderness between the two, locked together in a Depression-era world, is the essence of A Christmas Memory.
She's bawdy and brash, tender and vulnerable; she's graceful and klutzy, commanding and helpless. She's a singer who hits every vocal nuance, whether serious or satiric; a high-energy dancer who could probably double as a contortionist; a comic who draws roars from pratfalls, subtle glances, punchlines and sensuality.
Painter Rudolf Bauer, one of the stellar prewar abstract painters, was lucky. He earned acclaim and money. His rags-to-riches story is fascinating, yet at the height of his creative power, he cried foul -- and refused to paint again. His alleged betrayal is the essence of Bauer, an intimate, well-staged drama.