An over-egged and painfully slowly served breakfast


Breakfast at Tiffany’sTheatre Royal Haymarket

You have to feel sorry for this solid but uninspired adaptation of Truman Capote's novel. Its heroine, Holly Golightly, who will always be associated with Audrey Hepburn, arrived on a London stage in the same week as the two-play Harry Potter, a show that is twice as long but feels half the running time.

If making a comparison between these chalk and cheese productions feels a little strained, I make it only because after being elated and elevated by one, seeing the other immediately afterwards is to be brought crashing come down from a high.

It's not that Nikolai Foster's production doesn't have many of the ingredients to make a good show. The best of these is singer Pixie Lott in her West End debut. She brings real star wattage to the role of Holly and also a voice and delivery good enough to make a song as iconic as Moon River all her own. And, as the Capote-esque writer/narrator Fred, Matt Barber has an endearing vulnerability about him - his writerly comfort zone of outside observer steadily compromised by Holly's charms.

But this show is ageingly slow. There is no urgency as the narrative saunters to the play's various locations - mainly consisting of Fred's grubby apartment in a New York brownstone, Holly's on the floor below and a bar for drowning sorrows. And, although the context acknowledges the Second World War period, it does so without ever making much more of it than observing how cabs were harder to find those days.

Even more problematically, the story, focusing on a party girl who is as popular as she is unknowable, might be great on paper - particularly in the pages of Capote's book - but you wonder where the esteemed American playwright Richard Greenberg, who adapted the work, thinks the drama lies. It's no bad thing that this show takes its cue from the book more than film. But lovers of the book will prefer to read it, and lovers of the film will be denied the nostalgia of the film's high style.

When Pixie Lott is not singing, the best of this evening is to be found in Capote's pungent prose. It is evocatively performed by Barber's Fred in a series of monologues, but it is also a constant reminder that a classier, less literal way of consuming Breakfast at Tiffany's exist in the form of the book.

Capote's description of the seediness of his digs, and how Holly's sensuality draws a plethora of parasitic hangers-on and admirers is masterful.

But Foster allows Lott to mix up sensuality with an explicit sexuality. And Fred's paradoxical sexuality - a gay man in thrall to a woman - is also over-egged.

All of which would be forgivable if the evening had a fraction of the speed, inventiveness and theatricality of Harry Potter.

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