Breakfast at Tiffany's review - July 2016
a show with a lot of potentialAt a time when new writing is blossoming on the West End, it's actually quite refreshing to hear that a classic is being brought back to the stage. Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's is well-known for starring the iconic Audrey Hepburn, and now modern popstar Pixie Lott dons the black gloves and sunglasses.
It's a tricky role. Holly Golightly is by no means simple, which is why she is wonderfully irresistible and hugely frustrating all at the same time, and achieving a balance between the two is paramount to making the audience fall in love with her. Whilst Pixie Lott is beautiful to look at; she successfully oozes the grace and erratic nature of Holly, she somehow lacks the vulnerability that makes her so endearing. In fact, the distinct lack of diversity in her performance causes her portrayal of the wayward society star to become very jarring and generally unlikeable.
Matt Barber has the difficult task of hoisting the whole production on his shoulders, narrating the tale from start to finish in Richard Greenberg's apt adaptation. There are moments of spark, and you certainly feel for him as the foregone Fred, but he ultimately lacks the charisma that is essential for this role. You could imagine someone like Michael Xavier grabbing the reigns of this role and making him utterly charming. But Barber is not all bad. You get the sense that he is a struggling writer who struggles in all other aspects of his life too – perhaps there just needs to be less shouting involved.
Sometimes it's difficult whether to pinpoint if it's the actors or the direction that are responsible for the general pace and tone of the evening. Nikolai Foster's general overview of the production is outstanding; it has an abundance of class and grace, and Matthew Wright's design combined with Ben Cracknell's lighting is utterly divine. Simple set pieces glide across the stage, with the overriding art deco theme firmly present. It's a delight to watch simply for the effect of the design, which pieces the whole production together.
Unfortunately Breakfast at Tiffany's is a show with a lot of potential that simply makes for a very dull evening – it’s quite telling when the appearance of a cat is the only thing that stirs an otherwise slumbering audience. Greenberg's script is good, the design is apt and the supporting actors are fairly talented. There just needs to be a whole lot more pace injected into the scenes to make it entertaining. It's a production that only needs to be an hour and a half maximum, but has been dragged out for an unknown reason. Never before have I checked my watch so much during a show. Cut sections, pick up the pace and add a little bit of flavour to really bring Capote’s novel to life.
Reviewed by Susannah Rose Martin.
27 July 2016, Theatre Royal Haymarket