I sometimes think that we remember iconic movies through rose-tinted glasses. Frequently I’ll catch a film on TV late at night that I loved – way back in the mists of time – only to discover that it really wasn’t as good as I remembered it.
Blake Edwards created movie magic with the charming and whimsical romcom, Breakfast At Tiffany’s, which starred the beautiful Audrey Hepburn as champagne socialite, Holly Golightly, and the handsome George Peppard as Paul, the next door neighbour who falls hopelessly in love with her.
It all seemed so innocent but, on closer analysis, perhaps Edwards chose to edit out the cruder issues surrounding Holly’s life.
But where did it all go wrong for the stage version of Breakfast At Tiffany’s that is running this week at Milton Keynes Theatre as part of an extensive UK tour? Was it the decision to make its protagonist a (totally inappropriate) blonde?
Or was it the updating of the story to make Holly’s neighbour a sexually confused writer called Fred, who falls for the sparkling lovely, despite clearly being gay. Or was it the decision to get Holly knocked up? Or the terrible American accents?
There’s something rather sleazy, squalid and profoundly disappointing about Richard Greenberg’s adaptation of Truman Capote’s classic novella, with Holly reduced to nothing more than a whore, sleeping with older men for cash and a good time.
Worse, there is no magic, interest or engagement with this rather cold, impersonal production which almost hints at paedophilia by casting a tiny, child-like Georgia May Foote whose Holly throws herself at men old enough to be her grandfather and they, in turn, delighting at having a prepubescent-looking girl on their arms.
What was director Nikolai Foster thinking using Greenberg’s lacklustre, soulless story?
The former Coronation Street star lacks sophistication (not helped by the blonde hair – yet she looks a stunning brunette in the programme) and delivers her lines in a repetitive, flat, incomprehensible voice.
The production isn’t helped by Ben Cracknell’s dark, gloomy lighting design. Most of the story is performed in near darkness.
Fred (Matt Barber) is beguiled by Holly, as is, uncomfortably, every man she meets. Not only is she working her way through New York’s wealthiest men, she’s plundered Hollywood’s finest, and is now moving on to her best friend’s Brazilian fiancé.
But she still has time to flirt and work her magic on the lower ranks – Fred, a bar tender called Joe and a snapper called Yunioshi.
What none of them know is that fantasist Holly is on the run from her life as the child bride of an elderly widower and his two kids. The ambitious, effervescent, good time girl is determined to live the high life.
Barber delivers a good performance but the principals are out-acted by the superb Melanie La Barrie who plays the roller-skating, opera-singing, protesting neighbour, Madame Spanella and, later, gives a droll cameo as Fred’s stern magazine editor.
Coming a close second is a very cute, rather subdued, cat, called Cat. He’s played by Bob who is already a superstar, having appeared on Casualty, EastEnders and Doctors, numerous adverts, and has film credits that include Turner and Children of Men. The feline even has his own twitter account @TiffanysBobCat. He is purrfect.
Breakfast At Tiffany’s continues at Milton Keynes Theatre before heading back on the road.
Remaining tour dates
September 26 – October 1, BRISTOL Hippodrome
October 10 – 15, MALVERN Festival Theatre
October 17 – 22, SHEFFIELD Lyceum Theatre
October 25 – 29, BRIGHTON Theatre Royal
October 31 – November 5, BELFAST Grand Opera House
November 7 – 12, CARDIFF New Theatre
November 14 – 19, NORWICH Theatre Royal
Richard Greenberg’s dark, rather grubby, adaptation of Truman Capote’s sparkling romcom, Breakfast At Tiffany’s is disappointing and lacking lightness.