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REVIEW: Breakfast at Tiffany’s@Theatre Royal

October 26, 2016

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Truman Capote

Theatre Royal

Brighton

Based on Truman Capote’s novel, this is the story of a young woman in New York City who meets a young man when he moves into her apartment building; this stage adaptation by Richard Greenberg tries to recapture the elegant sense of the film.

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Although presented as a simple and familiar romantic love story there is much deeper stuff going on in this play but the failure of Georgia May Foote to connect and convince of Hollys’ trembling iron clad vulnerability let down the subtler edges. May Footes’ characterisation was brittle, her voice a little too shrill, slightly too vacant, not giving the moody silences of the character enough space to emerge, it all seemed far too fake and not polished or phony enough.  Her singing however was superb, just the right note of insouciance, wistfulness and fragility,  perfect moments in the show.

Her Holly didn’t feel dark, bruised and complex, but more defiant, shallow and greedy.  It’s a seriously difficult role to get right, but utterly vital that it does as the whole of the plot circulates around the dense gravity of Holly’s triumph of self-delusion and the way men are attracted to her. Matt Barber as ‘Fred’ does well, expositioning himself constantly to the audience and manging his complex staging with ease, he’s a consummate actor, again I thought the subtleties lost, and playing him (literally) straight & confused seems a cop out, but he’s convincing in the role.

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The supporting cast do well with these two dimensional characters and Capote only meant them to be walk-ons, so they get some laughs, Naomi Cranstone as Meg is a delight who slides across the stage, the perfect lush and her accent also slides around quite a lot. Robert Calvert’s Doc, was superb, his honesty and sadness perfectly honed and seemingly only more genuine against the complex machinations and manipulations of the other characters. Charlie De Melo as José was sexy, swarthy and fun but should learn how to pronounce his name in Portuguese, rather than Spanish… as that’s how they speak in Brazil and Melaine La Barrie  gives us constant light relief as the odd  judgemental roller skating Mme Spanella.  Holly Golightly became Capote’s favourite character of all the ones he created, probably because he lived the high life that Holly does herself, bumping around the world, hobnobbing with Earls and moneyed elites.

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The sets from Matthew Wright were whisked on and up and down in  scene changes bringing focus to the rapid change of place and space while keeping the feeling of being in a busy vibrant city. The lighting from Ben Cracknell hinting at brick lined canyons and mimicking Bernice Abbot’s photography and the lighting of some epic cityscape photos from the 40’s. This constant change of pace keeps the narrative moving on, as it must, and also serves to increase the tension as things slowly build to their inevitable conclusion.

Some of the important plot points have been removed by Richard Greenberg’s adaption, which is odd as this leaves the moral judgements of the play seriously askew and it’s a finally balanced book.  It’s curious how many adaptations remove the fact that Fred is also earning his way by selling his company (and one assumes his body) when they first meet.  There are few laughs and some of them are harsh.   At its core it’s a story about finding yourself, and the struggle we all go through looking for something to believe in, some validation we can hold on to and something we want, seriously want, to be. Holly bashes and crashes around society and dodgy men trying to find her meaning in life and ultimately runs away to Brazil avoiding the police as she goes, we’ve all been there……

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The truth at the heart of this play is the reason people love it; that there’s a little bit of Holly in us all,  May Foote manages to demonstrate this, almost as an afterthought and it’s these moments when she owns the character that are the best.

The packed theatre enjoyed every moment of the play it must be said, it’s a popular film and people have a fondness for it, in this touring production they are presented with a clever and lightly presented version of Capotes story, with enough moments of glamour and reflective monologing to keep everyone on board and engaged with the story, it’s a pity the film looms so large over this production as the inevitable (and unfair) comparison are going to be made by fans and also fostered by the slick marketing surrounding this production which deliberatly evokes the film (and the hair colour of Audury H even though Capote specifices Holly is blonde.)

Oh the cat was superb, (he has his own twitter site)  the two ladies sitting behind me entranced by how well behaved it was, how it caught all its cues and how it enjoyed wandering around the set as if it owned it.

It did.

Until Saturday October 29

Theatre Royal

New Road, Brighton

For more info or to buy tickets see the Theatre Royal website here

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