To host one misfiring stage adaptation of Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's may be a misfortune; to house another, just seven years later, that's even worse is surely carelessness and maybe even a catastrophe. Yet the Theatre Royal Haymarket is once again doing exactly that, with this summer import of a long-touring regional production, launched at Leicester's Curve in March, and an unusual blot on their usually far more tasteful landscape. Of course regional theatres have to broker commercial partnerships to share the burden of producing work these days; but did no one stop to read the reviews of the 2013 Broadway production of this Richard Greenberg adaptation?
As Ben Brantley wrote in the New York Times at the time, "Holly Golightly does not. Go lightly, that is. The new stage adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany's, Truman Capote’s beloved portrait of a glamorous waif in 1940s New York, moves with a distinctly leaden step, as if it dreaded what might be waiting around every dark corner of the sinister city it portrays." And the same thing is now true as this version, now newly and flaccidly directed by Curve's artistic director Nikolai Foster, makes its London debut. What is waiting around the corner here is sadly worth dreading: the London adult stage debut of sometime pop waif Pixie Lott (she previously appeared as a child actor in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium).
We are not quite in the same realm of utter train crash as Lindsay Lohan in Speed-the-Plow, but Lott is similarly over-exposed (though her topless bath scene is under-exposed for those in search of the titillating pleasures that had Anna Friel who played it in the last production here whipping male heterosexual critics into a frenzy, with Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail even advising his readers at the time, "Book a seat in the gods for a view of her derriere.")
Foster capitalises on her only strength, which is to sing three numbers - including, of course, Moon River, the Oscar winning tune created for the 1961 film -- in a sultry, smoky drawl to her own guitar accompaniment.
The sparks fail to ignite otherwise, and it's difficult to believe why this woman holds such fascination for men, gay and straight alike, as her closeted writer neighbour, a lonely barman and a convicted criminal in Sing-Sing variously become infatuated with her.
The episodic structure of the story -- crossing between seedy bedrooms and bars -- also fatally drains the momentum, especially when Lott and her co-star Matt Barber as the writer Freddie have so little chemistry. The best performance comes from Bob the Cat, who is utterly natural and unscripted.
What the Press Said...
" Elsewhere, the show isn’t quite sure if it’s an exposure of phoniness or in love with shallow surfaces. Still, despite its faults, I enjoyed spending a few hours travelling in Miss Golightly’s company...."
Holly Williams for the Independent
"The blunt truth, however, is that there is nothing essentially dramatic about Capote’s novella...What we are left with on stage is a series of vignettes, a mechanically efficient production by Nikolai Foster and the presence of Pixie Lott."
Michael Billington for The Guardian
Even the cat looks underwhelmed in an arduous revival that's a slave to its source material."
Fiona Mountford for The Evening Standard