★★ | Based on the classic novel by Truman Capote; which was famously immortalised on the big screen by the 1961 film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s tells the story of an unnamed writer’s obsession with his faux-socialite neighbour, Holly Golightly, as she optimistically flirts, romances and blags her way through life via a series of romantic interludes with a number of well to do men.Photo Credit – Sean Ebsworth Barnes
Based more on the book than on the film, this adaptation by Richard Greenberg has its moments. Firstly, the script, whilst wordy, carries with it an essence of Capote’s work, with rhythmically delivered passages of lengthy text which maintain the feeling of a novella rather than a play. Returning the time frame to the original 1940’s setting, the costumes were both glamorous, and, in the case of Holly Golightly, numerous. The set design was beautifully done, sturdily constructed, versatile and filled with period detail; and the lighting design by Ben Cracknell effectively transported the audience between New York downpours and hazy summer days.
Matt Barber (Downton Abbey) delivers his role as Fred with enthusiasm and an element of innocence as his character falls for his neighbour’s charms; despite the hint of Fred’s closeted homosexuality running through the piece. Georgia May Foote (Coronation Street) is functional and steady as Holly Golightly. Stepping into such an iconic role was always going to be a tough call for any actress and Foote holds her own, never really excelling, but never falling flat either, although she doesn’t quite pull off the charisma and allure of the character entirely.
The difficulty with this production is that is it, sadly, just plain dull. Golightly comes across as a self-absorbed, egocentric and, quite frankly, dislikeable character, which makes you wonder just why anyone would become so infatuated with someone so narcissistic. The play is heavy, slow going and overlong, which lacks any of the whimsical lightness and charm of the film version; and whilst the play is more reliant on the novella than the film, comparisons are unavoidable. The pacing and momentum of the piece is patchy; it is clumsy at times, there are a number of unnecessarily loud and messy scenes filled with a variety of unlikeable characters; and the audience warmed more to the scene stealing cat, Bob, than most of the actors on stage.
For those enamoured with the book, this is a relatively good adaptation, and they will not doubt find much to enjoy within this production, which is a grittier and darker adaptation in keeping with Capote’s writing. For those who are smitten with the film, and despite the publicity shots for the play which are tantalisingly reminiscent of the iconic imagery associated with the movie, there is likely to be some disappointment.