Review: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Theatre Royal Haymarket

*Originally Published by A Younger Theatre*

Pixie Lott glitters as socialite Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She makes the part more brazenly modern than the sophisticated glamour that Audrey Hepburn had in the 1961 film. Her flirtation and indiscretions are not uncertain insinuations as in the film, but blatant suggestions. Lott pulls it all off with a certain charm, although her Holly is only ever really likeable when she’s happy and steady in a relationship with suave Brazilian politician Jose (Charlie de Mello). Her look has a cutesy edge with Lott’s blonde curls and the occasional tea dress, but her character is never innocent. Who would have guessed that the pop star famous for ‘All About Tonight’ and ‘Cry Me Out’ would transfer so well to the West End stage?

This dazzling girl isn’t given quite the exuberant parties you’d expect of a celebrity who knew everyone in New York City, or the vivacious storyline needed to contain her star burst personality. Perhaps emblematic of the production as a whole, the plastic drinking glasses give an unsatisfying clunk rather than the ringing clink you’d expect from a martini or whisky glass. Lott’s husky and soothingly deep renditions of ‘Moon River’, ‘Hold Up My Dying Day’ and ‘People Will Say We’re in Love’ are isolated moments of anchored emotion in a fairly monotone and paceless production. Even Cat is placid and emotionless as a fluffy stone, although I don’t know how much I can criticise the acting capabilities of Bob the Cat. To be fair, he’s very well behaved, pattering off and on without the least bit of stage fright.

The NYC skyline is a faded and unsure projection, which looks anaemic against the brightness of the costumes, although the change of backdrop to the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset is impressive. Tiffany’s mint green jewellery blocks used to change the scene sometimes confuse our sense of space. Matthew Wright’s set design as a whole quite lazily takes many of its cues from the film, down to the layout and style of Holly’s rooms, with a pink satin duvet cover on the bed and a pokey kitchen. So while our Holly and Fred are entirely new entities, the design and choreography seem to be consciously harking back to the play’s famous predecessor. There is some invention though. The spotlights fade out into boxes of light, like the modular city grid, in a neat move by lighting designer Ben Cracknell.

This spotlight shines mainly on Fred (Matt Barber). We’re greeted by Future Fred, who frequently breaks out of the present storyline with Holly to directly address the audience and narrate our story. He has all the dynamite energy of a man who’s made something of himself. Present Fred has a fluid sexuality, nervousness and coy demeanour unlike the strait laced and besotted portrayal of the hero by George Peppard. An odd moment occurs when our Fred encircles the birdcage Holly has gifted him in an enraptured sweep and shrouds of light. There’s something very needy about the younger character, perhaps even a little whiney. But Future Fred more than makes up for it.

I would have liked to have seen more of Holly’s neighbours, photographer Yunioshi (Andrew Joshi) and roller-skating busy body Mme Spanella (Melanie La Barrie). Victor McGuire gives an excellent turn as the friendly barman Joe and Robert Calvert provides Doc with a simple but quiet presence in his denim dungarees. Naomi Cranston as Mag and Tim Frances as Rusty form an undeniable power couple.

Richard Greenberg’s adaptation of the Truman Capote novel, then, has the stars but lacks the drama to pull off a real theatre hit. The ending is elusive, as it is in the novel, but I didn’t leave the theatre having felt like it earned such an enigmatic conclusion.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is playing at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until September when it goes on tour around the UK. Find out more on the Breakfast at Tiffany’s website. I’d recommend having a look at the programme merely for the amusing comparison of Pixie Lott’s bio and headshot page with everyone else’s.