It is widely known that Truman Capote had lobbied for his friend Marilyn Monroe to play the part of Holly Golightly in the movie version of his novella, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. He was, of course, overruled and Audrey Hepburn made Holly an icon of chic sophistication in the much loved 1961 film. However, Emily Atack’s depiction in this production gives us a glimpse of how the film may have been with Monroe in the starring role.
Bringing charm, wit and vulnerability, as well as all the sex appeal of her role as Charlotte in The InBetweeners, Atack makes a wonderful blonde bombshell of a Holly. To play the part convincingly, the audience has to believe that almost every single man she encounters falls madly in love with her, and as she dishes out sass and struts around the stage in a series of ever more fabulous evening dresses, it is not much of a stretch of the imagination. While her voice may not be outstanding, it is very nice indeed, and she makes her mark on the production’s three musical numbers, not least her rendition of Moon River, sung beautifully while strumming a guitar on her bed. The fact that it is her stage debut makes her performance all the more impressive.
Matt Barber as leading man Fred is very accomplished, with great physical presence and comic timing, but Richard Greenberg’s stage adaptation fails to convey the character as sympathetically as he is depicted in Capote’s writing, losing some of the original’s charm. Fred spends the first half rather awkwardly attempting to inveigle himself into Holly’s knickers, and the second half completely besotted with her, without much of a sense of the friendship and respect that exists between the two characters.
All of the cast deliver above average performances and work well on stage together, with special mentions going to Robert Calvert for his warm depiction of Doc, the Texan who shows up in New York claiming to be Holly’s husband, and Bob the Cat, who plays Holly’s pet cat and is clearly a big hit with tonight’s audience.
The play is set in the 1940s of Capote’s novella rather than the early 1960s of the film adaptation, and the brilliant stage design evokes this era perfectly. Holly’s room in a New York apartment block, where most of the action takes place, is a perfect evocation of shabby bohemian glamour, and the way the staging shows the action moving in and out of the apartment is inspired. Other locations such as the Brooklyn Bridge and the local watering hole are brought to life with creativity and imagination. The unpretentious King’s Theatre is the perfect venue for this fun little gem of a show, with the audience munching through bags of sweets and tubs of ice cream while being thoroughly entertained. If you are able to get tickets for this show before it finishes on Saturday, you are guaranteed a great night out.