Pixie Lott steps into the iconic role of Holly Golightly, made famous by Audrey Hepburn, in a play adaptation of Truman Capote’s well-loved novella “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. The pop princess captures Holly’s surface level charm and shallowness; she swans around the stage with a playful elegance but ultimately fails to win the hearts of the audience with any of the complex emotional depth that the role requires. The production is aesthetically beautiful, the setting is 1940’s New York rather than the 60’s style of the film, and the costume design is stunning but the glitz and glamour doesn’t compensate for the real lack of depth to the central character.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s follows a nameless narrator (Matt Barber) as he moves into the same brownstone apartment block as the society girl, Holly Golightly (Pixie Lott), and becomes spell bound by her unpredictable and carefree nature. Holly nicknames him Fred after her brother who he supposedly looks like and invites him into her world to meet the people she occasionally acquaints with, the rich Rusty Trawler (Tim Frances), the Brazilian diplomat Jose (Charlie De Melo) and the fellow socialite Mag (Naomi Cranston).
Holly Golightly is a really difficult character to play; she should be charmingly energetic and extroverted but reveal snippets of vulnerability and emotional complexity. Pixie Lott does her best but you can’t help but feel that her performance should be more nuanced and interesting for the West End stage. The film is supposed to be more sugar-coated than the novella and most of the play reflects this but Pixie’s Holly is more sickly sweet than Hepburn’s and even at the darkest moments in the play she fails to develop the character into anything deeper. The appeal of Hepburn’s Holly was her guarded and careful nature, something Pixie doesn’t quite nail. Lines such as “I hate snoops” were mysterious and interesting with Hepburn but fall flat in the stage adaptation, it’s hard not to compare when iconic moments from one adaptation completely lose their sparkle in another adaptation.
Nevertheless Pixie Lott’s performing history gives her the right kind of stage presence for this show. She lights up the stage with her larger than life personality and looks stunning throughout. We all know someone who behaves a little bit like Holly in real life, probably to a lesser degree and you can’t help but watch her when she’s flouncing across the stage. This production probably wouldn’t have existed without a star casting but I’m not convinced that Pixie Lott was the right choice for this role.
Matt Barber as our narrator was slightly more engaging emotionally as he battles with his identity as a young male who hasn’t begun to succeed yet. He offers the audience a much more interesting character development but still the play feels like it’s lacking some real substance. All the men that become spell bound by Holly are great, Joe Bell (Victor McGuire), Doc (Robert Calvert), Jose (Charlie De Melo), OJ (Sevan Stephan) and Rusty (Tim Frances), but when the audience doesn’t latch onto her in the same way it all just feels (to quote an audience member sat near me) lukewarm.
It says a lot about a show when the cat is the only one that gets a laugh and whenever he came on the tension lifted in a really obvious way, it was only then that I realised just how tense the mood among the audience was. Stage adaptations of Breakfast at Tiffany’s have had a history of not really working and this production, although well meaning, follows suit due to a somewhat clunky script and an absence of an ability to move the audience. The star casting of Pixie Lott provides a little bit more glamour but fails to give the production any of the depth or emotional punch that it needs. The result is a mediocre show that ultimately just makes you want to watch the film version again.
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