Two very different theatre reviews – Part 1: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Thanks to a rather amazing Christmas present, I’ve been lucky enough to go to my local theatre twice in as many weeks, to see two very different shows.  One I absolutely adored – the other, not quite so much.  I’m about to face a challenge I’ve never had before.  To review a play that I didn’t love!

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Last week, my best friend and I went to the Theatre Royal in Nottingham to watch “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. Now, I should probably start by saying I have never seen the classic movie starring Audrey Hepburn.  Which was probably a good thing, as apparently the play is based on the book, not the film.

I haven’t read the book either.

So, I sat on the front row of the stalls, having no clue whatsoever of what was about to happen.  Whatever I was expecting, this wasn’t it.

Bear in mind, the only knowledge I have of Breakfast at Tiffany’s is the iconic image of Audrey Hepburn, standing outside Tiffany’s wearing a classic black dress, with a chignon and pearls.  So if asked I would have said I thought the play would be light-hearted, full of glamour and glitz and a few witty one liners.

In reality, it was pretty bleak.  And far too long.

Now, I really don’t like to criticize something because it just wasn’t to my taste.  That’s not the play’s fault – that’s all me.  I’m a sentimental girly-girl who likes a happy ending.  So it was almost guaranteed that I wouldn’t enjoy this play.

So, let’s focus on the positives.  The acting was technically good.  Emily Atack gave a convincing performance as the wild Holly Golightly.  She had lots of charm and it was easy to see why all of the male characters were fascinated by her.  She had a very nice voice (if slightly too modern for the time period), although I’m still to be convinced that Oklahoma’s “People will say we’re in love” added anything to the production.

Matt Barber (who played Atticus in Downton Abbey) led the show as the author who falls under Holly’s spell.  In the programme his name is credited as Fred, but I’m not sure if we’re ever told his real name.  Matt had some truly beautiful dramatic moments as he got more and more frustrated with trying to deal with the, for want of a better description, “messed-up” way that Holly lived her life.

The rest of the company were solid, with each actor taking on a number of roles.  The staging was interesting, with a well thought out set.

The real star of the show was probably Bob the cat, who completely stole the show in the role of “Cat”.  The audience loved him, and he was either the most disciplined and obedient cat in the world or he was hopped up on a whole heap of catnip!

It was just the story – it did nothing for me.  When we first meet the author, he is lamenting the fact that he hasn’t heard from Holly for a while.  She’s gone missing.  At the end of the play, she’s still missing.  Apart from seeing first hand some of her crazy antics, I don’t think we really learned anything.  There was no real explanation of why she was the way she was.  There didn’t seem to be any character development.  The Holly we hear about in the beginning is the same Holly we meet in Fred’s apartment, and the same Holly who vanishes at the end.

One thing that really annoyed me was the image of Holly on the promotional material.  The actress is shown in a black dress, hair up neatly, wearing pearls.  The actress in the show has shoulder-length blonde hair, in a 1940’s style and never once wears a black dress.

The play’s version of Holly makes sense when you learn that Truman Capote based the original Holly on Marilyn Monroe and was very annoyed when she wasn’t cast in the movie.  But I feel it was incredibly cheeky of the production company to use the image they did, knowing that wasn’t what was in the show.  It’s pretty misleading to the audience.

If you were a big fan of the film, you would be forgiven for feeling short changed that Holly didn’t appear as you expected.  As it was, for someone unfamiliar with film or book, I just sat through the whole play wondering if she was about to undergo a transformation.  She didn’t.

When the play finally ended, I was left feeling a bit blah.  I didn’t feel the story had finished.  More reading on Wikipedia shows that this ending is true to the book.  But it wasn’t particularly satisfying.

So, I don’t think I really need to say if I would go and see this again.  Definitely not.  It’s just not my cup of tea.  If you’re a long term lover of the film, you might choose to give it a miss also.  Or go prepared for something different.  Book lovers, on the other hand might find it interesting.  I’d love to hear from one of them.

I like theatre to leave me buoyed up and overflowing with excitement as I exit.  Sadly, this just didn’t do that for me.  I had a very different experience at my next show.  Pop back soon to find out all about a much more uplifting theatre trip!

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