Review: Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Theatre Royal Haymarket

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is the latest film adaptation to hit London’s West End, taking up residence in the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Not having seen the film, I had to be informed that this adaptation is actually much closer to the original Truman Capote novella than the Hollywood version, so namely there is much less coyness about how the leads make their money and the timeframe is restored back to 1943. A young writer, Fred, makes his way to New York City where he meets Holly Golightly “a charming, vivacious and utterly elusive good-time girl” who lives in his building and we follow their developing relationship for a year, in the shadow of World War II and her need for a rich sugar daddy.

Events did not start off well by the first main scene seriously evoking the recent corpse of Too Close To The Sun with some pointlessly fast revolving sets, followed by a metal lampshade that lost control and clanged endlessly against a bit of the set, and then by a cringeworthy dance routine which left most of my party helpless with the giggles. This triple threat should have warned us to leave then and there: the evening did not get any better.

I really wanted to like Anna Friel in this, I really did, but by golly she made it hard for me. So much about her performance just didn’t work for me, I was really quite surprised. Her accent wavered a lot, and was rather under-powered, so that it was often difficult to hear her: either she needs to gain more confidence and project better, or the microphones need to be turned up. But this would still not address the main problem for me which was that she just didn’t exude any charisma at all as Holly Golightly. I didn’t believe for one minute that she could have these men wrapped around her finger, nor see the appeal for Fred. Her singing voice was pleasant enough, but none of the songs really packed any emotional impact. Joseph Cross as the amorous Fred brought an appealing fresh-faced innocence to his part, and wasn’t too afraid of whipping his parts out either for that matter, but the lack of chemistry between the two meant that my interest just wasn’t there. And James Dreyfus felt horribly cast against type as Holly’s agent.

The set looks for the most part cheap and nasty: the predominant colour is an awful shade of mint green and the skyline looks like something I once made in primary school. The split level bit is effective but the sky painted onto the front of it didn’t do it for me at all. And there is an amazing scene with a random little sailboat that trundles on along the back which led to at least three audible guffaws from around us, it just looks ridiculous.

The highlight for me was when the (admittedly cute) cat lingered onstage after being released from its carrycase, instead of making a swift exit, which elicited the only real emotion of the evening. Not even the nudity (both male and female) could save it, indeed two of us missed the scene where Fred stood up in the bath since we were both dozing, there was a little confusion among the others over what you actually saw at this point so feel free to let me know if we missed anything good! Or rather, save your pennies and don’t bother with this one.

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