Named after Holly Golightly herself, when I first seen the stage adaption of Breakfast At Tiffany’s advertised at a train station on my way into town I was eager to get tickets, and knew my mum would be too. When we eventually got to ordering them, there were only select seats left, and were surprised by the price- especially for a show just making its practice run before hitting London’s West End. Regardless, expecting only the best, we ordered.
Before I start with the review, I will say this, out performance was interrupted by a woman taking a fairly bad seizure in the balcony below us. Matt Barber, who was playing Fred, stopped mid scene to ask that the show be halted so the woman could receive medical help. This, though untimely, could not be helped and it was all handled very well by the cast and theater staff. Without sounding cold-hearted, this was distracting. The cast were wary when they got around to continuing, and the impromptu twenty minute break meant that the audiences attention span was shorter than it had been in the beginning. Although this really had no effect on my overall feelings about the production, I thought it was important to mention as my experience was not the same as what others may be do they choose to go see the show.
I’ll insert the synopsis of the show from the website as a little bit of background information in case you have no idea what I’m talking about:
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the classic tale of Holly Golightly written by Truman Capote and so memorably portrayed by Audrey Hepburn in the iconic 1961 film, is being given a new lease of life as a stage play with music in a sparkling, sophisticated production. Starring as Holly in the West End and at selected theatres is brilliant and multi award-winning Pixie Lott.
Adapted by Pulitzer Prize finalist and Tony and Olivier Award-winning playwright Richard Greenberg and directed by Nikolai Foster, 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.
Featuring memorable songs from the era, this stylish production is set to capture the hearts of audiences and sparkle like a diamond in a Tiffany’s window.”
Quote from http://breakfastattiffanys.co.uk/
Now, like I said, you could consider this leg of the tour to be the shows practice run, so it wasn’t Pixie Lott that was starring, but rather Emily Atack, who you might know from The Inbetweeners. Atack was great. Her accent was great, her mannerisms were too, as was her voice when singing excerpts from Moon River and other classic songs from the production, but I had a pretty large problem with her as the infamous Holly- she was blonde. Her hair was short, kept in ringlets throughout the production and not once was it changed into the infamous updo, like it was shown to be in the original advertisements.
This probably sounds extraordinarily petty, but Audrey Hepburn’s interpretation of the character is so well known and so highly copied that it was hard to envision a blonde as the main character. They obviously knew that this would be the case, choosing to zoom in on the films characterization as a way of drawing people in and creating interest. But in reality, this ad is the only resemblance to the film adaption over the whole production.
I suppose you could argue that the title shown on the program is Truman Capote’s Breakfast At Tiffany’s which, in hind sight, is a major nod to the fact that the stage production is far more like the original story in the book. Also, upon further inspection of the synopsis I quoted above, it does state ‘1940s New York City’, while the movie was set in the time of its release, the 1960s. The whole idea of this show following the books story line would also explain why Holly was blonde, as Capote had pictured Marilyn Monroe while writing.
However, no where does it outright state that this adaption was to be based on the book, and so my point is fair; it was some serious false advertising that left me underwhelmed by the performance.
On to the actual performance. Despite there only being twelve members of cast, there were many characters throughout. However, at any on time there was a maximum of eight people on stage, which often made for awkward silence or set up. There is one scene in particular where I was made very aware of this, and it was the one set on the Brooklyn Bridge. Holly and Fred are said to be walking the bridge at night when an argument breaks out, but throughout the whole scene there is a stranger loitering at the back of the stage. As the scene ends there is a joke made in regards to him, however I would say this scene is one of the longer ones, and quite pivotal to how the play progresses, so having him in the background is very distracting. There were a few instances like this, and also points where there is prolonged silence in the middle of scenes. For me, I like watching things that have a very easy flow, but instead there were certain parts of this production which actually made me feel uncomfortable watching.
The majority of the play was set in Holly and Fred’s apartment block, whether it be the corridors, their individual apartments or the fire escape. These sets were done to a very high standard and, but the rest was sub par, though their transitions seamless. However, the idea of Tiffany’s might as well have been fictional in this edition as not once is it seen (she doesn’t once eat breakfast there, or even set off to go to Tiffany’s).
As for the costumes, we’ll I’ve already mentioned the hair, but apart from that, she doesn’t even wear the little black dress. Her dresses were gorgeous, yes, but they were far from iconic. And to be honest, that would by my overall review of the production- far from iconic. They took such a well known character, and while all they’ve really done is stripped it back to its original form, they’ve killed it in my eyes. I know this seems very harsh, especially when the cast actually did a good job, but this was the reality for a lot of people leaving the theater (and the loud woman sat behind me, who had no problem with voicing her opinions throughout) and for the selection of the few people who actually left during the interval due to boredom.
If you loved the book and its coming to your town, then I would recommend it; if you’re a fan of the film then I recommend putting your money away and putting on the DVD instead.