Richard Greenberg‘s adaptation of Truman Capote’s classic novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s turns out to be earnest, talky, and rather lifeless despite its good intentions.
Telling the story of a chirpy socialite/hooker in 1943 New York and her interaction with a writer who isn’t exactly straight, this production stays faithful to the book without turning it into a persuasive piece of theater.
Cory Michael Smith (Cock) plays the writer character, Fred, and has to narrate, an awkward device which is used seemingly at random moments throughout the play.
Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) is Holly Golightly–perhaps too lightly. Spewing “dyke” remarks and French phrases, Clarke comes off like a perfectly sensible woman who’s simply playing at having airs, rather than a damaged gal desperately hiding her insecurities with pretensions and veneer.
She doesn’t seem enchanting or vulnerable enough, and the effort (like the accent) is way too visible. In fact, rather than Audrey Hepburn (the movie’s Holly) or Marilyn Monroe (who almost was Holly), Emilia comes off a little like Norah Jones.
She does better in a fantasy scene, a musical interlude, and in Act Two, when some dark happenings bring out emotion and even plot. But those plot moments happen so quickly they seem strange in comparison to the lengthy scenes of atmospheric gab that preceded them.
Flanked by sliding scrims with projections flashed on them, the actors work at making the book seem like a play, but the result is largely as uncomfortable as the cat looks before Holly lets go of him and he runs off into the wings.
The production wears its faithfulness to the book as a badge of honor, but it’s hard to forget that the movie–though it seriously watered down elements of the original text–managed to be both chic and riveting in ways that are largely absent here.