Truman Capote’s novella was reinvented onstage, bringing in a whole new Holly, and a slightly different aftertaste – but not always up to speed with its potential.
Holly Golightly, a NY good-time girl who everybody knows and who steals the hearts of everyone she meets with her irresistible charm, is introduced to us by Fred – an author at the beginning of his career. As their unconventional relationship progresses, we get to know the story of a girl who bluffed her way out of many tricky situations but one that impacted her life the most.
Those who expected the story from the 1961 film will be a bit disappointed – the script is based on Truman Capote’s novella instead. Let’s make it clear: it’s much more intriguing, as an attempt of doing something that hasn’t been done, be it onstage or in the film. Less sugary, and with an attempt of escaping that old Hollywood charm, it was an interesting return to Capote’s prose. It is understandable that the new production has set the goal of steering away from Audrey Hepburn’s comparisons and bringing less of the fairy tale and more of the real life to the audience – however, it doesn’t always succeed in bringing the original back to life fully. The war background is not defined well enough, and the sense of Holly missing her brother, that fuelled the original and helped her make more than just a woman being shaped by all the wrong events, is lost somewhere in the plot. The story sits in between the cold and honest charm of Capote’s book and the glamour of Blake Edwards’s motion picture – in some moments, however, it’s not fully enough to stand on its own without regrets that it should try to get closer to the boundary of any of them to resonate with the audience more.
Pixie Lott’s attempts to nail the American accent and find Holly’s personality are decent – however, it’s the musical performances she really shines in. Her rendition of “Moon River” is truly delightful – a great pop ballad tribute to Henry Mancini. Those who really want to compare her to Hepburn’s character should forget about judging on that level. Golightly played by Lott is a different character, more electrifying, less innocent, but always not quite as effortlessly careless as Capote’s character could be, and sporadically more pretentious than playful. As she creates her own Holly, she takes us on a tense adventure, captivating the viewers as she takes the stage and makes it her own. Matt Barber also creates a different Fred that we imagine with the previous stories in mind; a little bit louder and crazier than Capote’s narrator, but certainly conveying the notion of having the soft spot for such a fascinating character as Miss Golightly.
What is really striking is the work of the costume and set designers. Holly sports beautiful, period accurate costumes and the gentlemen appearing onstage are always in well-cut, sleek frocks. The surroundings are stunning, capturing the climate of the big city, the magnetism of a metropolis, the life in the big lights and back street shadows.
Crafting a new approach to the pop-culture story that so many people know, and less people recognise from the original novella, is a brave take. Presenting this well-known complicated socialite and her friends and acquaintances could never be simple. However, the play is not motionless – it’s just different, and perhaps not up to its full potential.