Richard Greenberg’s adaptation of Truman Capote’s novella wins admiration for resolutely not replicating the famous film onstage. Going back to the original source, there’s a determination to show the dark side of heroine Holly Golightly’s desperate life: prostitution, abuse and depression, described as the “mean reds”. It’s a disorientating experience for an audience if expectations are based on the production poster. Not necessarily a bad thing.
Sitting near me, a fan of singer Pixie Lott, who takes top billing in a font size bigger than the title, seemed puzzled. It can’t have been the thin story, which director Nikolai Foster propels nicely. Maybe it’s the small amount of singing (although what there is impresses). Lott gives a credible performance, tethered by studiously avoiding any trace of the movie’s iconic star, Audrey Hepburn. Here, Holly is blonde, defiant and downright sexy – it really is “Golightly gone” – a total transformation. A fine idea, but consequently we have to wait until two emotional scenes near the end to really glimpse Lott’s considerable acting potential.
It’s clear to Lott, although it may be another surprise to some, that Holly isn’t the focus here. It’s Capote’s alter ego, a nameless writer, we are forced to focus on. Played by an exceptionally hard working Matt Barber, who injects a good deal of dynamism, fiercely holding the show together, it all comes down to how interesting you find this one writer’s struggle for success and journey of sexual discovery.
Capote, of course, found himself fascinating. If you don’t share his opinion, despite Foster’s efforts, the story is inconsequential. The show comes close to feeling like breakfast, lunch and dinner at Tiffany’s when just a cup of coffee would have sufficed. And there’s a cat – an astonishingly well-trained one you can follow on Twitter (@TiffanysBobCat). While everyone here is far too good to be upstaged by his feline talents, I’d rather follow him than the author any day.
Greenberg’s work is exemplary in creating the feel of a short story on stage – which is interesting – so the crux is how much Capote you can cope with? The case against? Holly isn’t quite the invention she’s cracked up to be, while secondary characters are weak, with the ensemble reduced to dodgy divertissements (rollerskates? No thank you). If you like your humour waspish with a big dose of self-indulgence, this fine production serves the author better than he deserves.
Until 17 September 2016
Photos by Sean Ebsworth Barnes