Pixie Lott is blonde, Audrey Hepburn isn’t. Lott’s Holly Golightly is Texan(ish), Hepburn’s isn’t. Obviously Lott has a lot to live up to in playing a character who’s so iconic. But there are enough differences between Blake Edwards’s film and Richard Greenberg’s stage play not to be comparing them all the time. Greenberg has based his adaptation on Truman Capote’s book, anyway, rather than on the film. But those differences don’t make the play any good. Nikolai Foster’s production is dull.
Matt Barber plays the irritating, smug narrator Fred who can’t do an American accent and who has very little stage presence. Partly it’s the fault of Greenberg’s uninspired adaptation. What’s the point in a piece of theatre that relies so heavily on a narrator? Do it on the radio, do it in a book. But on stage you end up with some poor actor, barely allowed to leave the stage, churning out plot while the set is changed behind him, not quite knowing what to do with himself. Barber talks at us and at us and at us. Never to us. A really good actor might be able to pull it off, all this apostrophic monologuing, but it makes for a really bad adaptation – entirely untheatrical, unimaginative, episodic and formulaic.
Lott, on the other hand, is pretty good as the ultimate coquette. The character talks a lot of whimsical shit, but Lott uses the barrage of words and flirtings to build a wall around her, some impenetrable defence. It’s obvious that Golightly is a tortured soul, even more so when we find out some of the facts of her past, but Lott lets the audience intuit the torture: she keeps the battlement walls up. She talks with a perpetual grin, so that her every line is tinged with ambiguity – is she mocking poor Fred or not?
Pleasingly, too, she can sing. Really well. And she nails Moon River. Her slightly husky, breathy voice replaces the smoothness of the film version with a soulfulness as she sits on her stoop and strums her guitar. It’s completely unlike Hepburn’s, with lovely lingering notes and little meanderings away from the melody. While she’s not at all bad when she’s acting, it’s her singing that exposes some of the rawer depths of Golightly’s character.
Around Lott, however, is a bunch of underdeveloped, overacted caricatures. That’s particularly true of the stupidly comic neighbour who is massively out of keeping with the tone of the play in her broadness.
Oh, and there’s a real cat. That’s nice. Overall, however, it’s perfunctory through and through. Matthew Wright’s New York fire escapes and brownstone blocks are pretty but very literal, and the play plods along with very little to hold attention. A Lott to be desired; and a lot to be desired.