‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’ Opens On Broadway: REVIEW

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BY NAVEEN KUMAR

Though it ends with a cameo by a cat on a stormy night in
New York City, Richard Greenberg’s stage adaptation of Truman Capote’s Breakfast At Tiffany’s, which opened at
the Cort Theatre on Broadway last week, isn’t very much like the iconic rom-com
made famous by Audrey Hepburn.

BATfinal-14Rather than reshaping it into a conventional love story like
the 1961 film, this production stays close to Capote’s original novella set
during the middle years of World War II. In his stage adaptation, Greenberg (Take Me Out, Three Days of Rain)
maintains the original narrative’s first person voice with Fred (an amiable Cory Michael
Smith) as the play’s narrator.

The story begins with a missing girl. It’s 1957 and Fred hasn’t
seen his friend and neighbor Holly Golightly (Emilia Clarke of HBO’s Game of Thrones) in over ten years. He goes
on to recount the story of their fateful and fitful relationship, cluing in the
audience on his feelings as seasons pass and their lives become increasingly
entangled.

That Fred and Holly don’t live happily ever after is clear
from the start—his fascination with her is only momentarily and unrequitedly
romantic. Rather, the play is more concerned with steadily revealing the enigmatic nature of
both characters.

BATfinal-100While Hepburn’s Holly Golightly is all sweetness and light, the
Holly on stage here is more brassy and droll—an ingratiating yet calculating
city girl making her own way in wartime Manhattan. Clarke lends the character a
particular kind of charm, though it seems in line with the story being told
here that her Holly is less magnetically sympathetic as the Holly made famous
by Hepburn.

Although he spends most of the play baring his soul to the
audience, our narrator has secrets of his own—and like most loaded secrets, Fred’s
turn out to be sexual. Clues slip from the narrative throughout (some less
subtle than others) hinting that Fred may not be exactly on the
straight-and-narrow.

Though its story is decidedly different from the film, the
production benefits from cinematic design elements. Director Sean Mathias (Bent) makes creative use of lighting,
projection and mobile scenery to guide the action from one scene and season to
the next, conjuring everything from a night stroll on the Brooklyn Bridge to horseback riding through Central Park.

With its aura of film noir rather than frothy antics, this Breakfast At Tiffany's will likely catch staunch romantics and classic film devotees off-guard. But the combination of two meticulous craftsmen in Capote and Greenberg make for a smart, seductive, well-spoken drama.

Plus, there's the cat. People really do seem to love that cat.

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Follow Naveen Kumar on Twitter: @Mr_NaveenKumar (photos: nathan johnson)

Comments

  1. eric says

    Not much of a review.
    Is it interesting? Is it compelling? does it hold your interest? is emilia clarke good? does mr smith take his clothes off? how is george wendt? do the young actors capture the period? is the tone of the original captured?
    tell us what we need to know to decide whether or not to buy tix!

  2. Cathy says

    My husband and I saw this play and it’s awful. Nothing really makes sense. Emilia Clarke is beautiful but the adaptation of the book is poor. We expected much more. Sorry.

  3. Sam says

    I’ve heard the first act is a long expository snooze fest which makes the rest of the show drag on. Most people don’t blame the actors but the adapation is just not good.

  4. KURT QUINTON says

    JUST GOT BACK FROM THE MATINEE. LEFT AFTER THE FIRST ACT. HOLLY AS PERFORMED MAKES NO SENSE. SHE SPEAKS THE LINES BUT THERE IS NOTHING OF THE REAL PERSON TO BE FOUND.POOR FRED JUST CAN’T CARRY THE PLAY ON HIS OWN BUT TRIES VALIENTLY. AND DID WE REALLY NEED GEORGE WENDT? I RARELY HAVE TROUBLE STAYING AWAKE IN THE THEATRE BUT I FOUND MYSELF DOZING OFF.

  5. Bob says

    1– “While Hepburn’s Holly Golightly is all sweetness and light” NO,NO: she is all feigned sweetness and light, which was how Hepburn nailed the part.
    2– I was planning to comment that Naveen finally wrote more of a review, rather than an analytic essay, about a play. However, it seems that the other commenters savage him and/or the production.

    One important characteristic when writing a review is to notice when a pervasive odor seeps from the stage into the audience.

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