BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S is running at the THEATRE ROYAL HAYMARKET from 30/06 – 17/09, starring PIXIE LOTT as HOLLY GOLIGHTLY
Truman Capote’s novel Breakfast at Tiffany’s is brought to life in a brand new adaptation by Tony and Olivier Award-winner Richard Greenberg.
“This tale of vivacious, good-time girl Holly Golightly and her fantastical existence in 1940s New York City, is told through the eyes of a young writer, completely fascinated by this exquisite extrovert who every woman wants to be, and every man wants to be with.” [www.breakfastattiffanys.co.uk]
I saw Breakfast at Tiffany’s recently with the unusual perspective of having never, much to my shame, either read the book nor seen the iconic 1961 film starring Audrey Hepburn. This left me reasonably unbiased as to what I expected from this production, with only a faint idea of the nature of Hepburn’s Holly present in my mind.
One might presume, from the media hype at least, that Pixie Lott is the obvious star of this show. In terms of fame and the weight that her name holds, perhaps. However, Matt Barber, who played Fred, was the one who really captured the audience. With flawless comic timing and an engaging stage presence, it was his narrative that kept me gripped throughout the play, eager to know the eventual outcome of his, and Holly’s, life. When I think back to this production, it is Fred, the charming, haphazard, aspiring writer, that I will remember. That said, although this is her stage debut, Lott was a delightful Holly (and her costumes were gorgeous). She came across as a natural on the theatrical stage, and by the interval I felt attached to her complex character. I was sceptical at first, having read some poor reviews which criticised Lott’s interpretation, and I found her delivery sounded too nuanced and practiced in the first quarter of the play, almost a caricature of a Southern accent. However, as her character gained more depth, I found her more and more compelling. Admittedly, the role of Holly Golightly is so strongly associated with Audrey Hepburn that people will always compare any new interpretation to hers, making it a difficult role to play.
The supporting cast were fantastic, with several successfully playing several different roles within the production, to much success. Robert Calvert, as naïve Doc, particularly pulled at my heartstrings in his portrayal. However, Madame Spanella, the prudish, failed contralto who spent the first half rollerskating around the apartment block, felt unnecessary. The humour Melanie La Barrie tried to inject into the part felt forced and her interjections were consistently boring. To her credit, the rollerskating was very impressive.
The set design, by Matthew Wright (Award-winning designer – another of his sets can be seen in Funny Girl, currently at the Savoy Theatre), is swish, yet simple, with large set pieces that roll on and off the stage or are lowered from above, making the scene transitions seamless and beautiful. I also thought the use of lighting, by Ben Cracknall, was beautiful, especially the way heavy rainfall was portrayed (which proved extremely cooling in the theatre on such a hot day).
My one larger criticism is regarding the songs which were inserted at different points throughout the play. Apart from the compulsory inclusion of Moon River (a suitable nod to Audrey Hepburn), the use of other songs did not quite ring true for me. I felt they were only included because Pixie Lott is a singer, not because they added any depth to the meaning of the adaptation. Furthermore, Lott’s slightly harsh voice, full of vocal fry, while perfect for producing pop music, felt jarring and out of place in this sort of production. While one cannot judge Pixie for using her real singing voice, it did not feel comfortable in this production.
In conclusion, however, I thoroughly enjoyed this production and found it worth going to, if only for Bob the Cat (the real star of the show, a rescue cat with a formidable acting CV), who delightfully scampered across the stage at choice moments.
4 out of 5 stars