New York City Theater
"Breakfast at Tiffany’s"
Holly Golightly was, by all accounts, a good-time gal. Then how come Richard Greenberg’s stage version of the Truman Capote novella, ”Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” is not a good-time evening?
In an effort to be faithful to Capote, Greenberg is, like Holly herself, faithless to the paying customers. Too much narration spoils the goods and we’re left with an adaptation that, frankly and perhaps unfairly, pales in comparison with the film version that starred the inimitable Audrey Hepburn.
With a large cast headed by an irritating Emilia Clarke as Holly and an ingratiating Cory Michael Smith as the Capote stand-in (Holly calls him “Fred” since that’s her brother’s name and she’s, you know, scattered), the evening feels skimpy and unhinged. We’re given a dutiful outline of the tale, yet one that eschews passion, fun, pathos, romanticism and glitter.
There’s little compelling about the evening, little that stirs envy or jealousy to make us want to stand in front of Tiffany’s, hoping something of Holly’s louche life rubs off. Rather, this is a sordid affair, dingy and unappetizing, without the charm that would leaven the “mean reds.”
The essentials are there, right down to Holly’s pet cat, assorted hangers-on and her Japanese neighbor, here portrayed as a concerned human being by James Yaegashi, not as the horrendous stereotype that Mickey Rooney scandalously portrayed in the film. It even has George Wendt as a heartfelt bartender.
Following the Capote tale, this Holly is definitely someone who auctions her favors. Also, there’s less pussy-footing around about the narrator’s homosexuality, although he’s almost, unconvincingly, “converted” by Holly.
Against a backdrop of vintage New York photos, incidents unwind in some sort of cohesive manner. But nothing engages until we get to Holly’s husband (a fine Murphy Guyer), whom she left back in the Midwest in order to make it in the East by losing her hayseed accent and gussying herself up.
Under Sean Mathias’s strained direction, suggestions that the devil may lurk around every corner of New York fail to evoke even the dancing-on-my-grave atmosphere so essential to tales of degradation and decadence.
At one point, Holly says, “This can go on forever.” Under the circumstances, it’s a heart-sinking line.
--David A. Rosenberg
April 9, 2013