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Posted by : RodDungate on Jul 30, 2016 - 02:25 PM RSC
by Truman Capote
adapted by Richard Greenberg
3 Stars ***

Theatre Royal, Haymarket to 17 September 2016

London SW1Y 4HT
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 3pm.
Runs 2hr 30 mins One interval.

TICKETS: 020 7930 8800.
Review: William Russell 28 July.

A somewhat less than satisfactory meal.

Pixie Lott is very pretty - and very brave. A singer, but no actress, she is in the West End essaying the role of Holly Golightly in a particularly ham fisted dramatisation of Capote’s famous novella. It is a role indelibly filled by Audrey Hepburn, so she is facing the sort of task proper actresses face when the time comes to give their Lady Bracknell and are confronted by the ghost of Edith Evans.

Ms Lott does what she can very nicely, but her inexperience is manifest. She is also hampered by a truly terrible deep south accent and an inability to project her lines when she is not talking too fast. At times it is impossible to make out what she is saying. Since both a dialect and a voice coach are credited this is a pity.

But she does make the role, such as it is, her own, the fact she is blonde helping little to lay the ghost of Hepburn.

The novella, quite different from the film, was about a party girl in 1940s New York who fascinated a young gay writer living in the same apartment block with her eccentric ways and her mysterious past. The film did what the cinema often does – changed everything, making Holly a socialite who did eccentric things rather than a good time girl from the sticks living on the kindness of strangers. And the writer was turned straight. The pair duly fell in love. It was its own thing, and quite enchanting. But so in its own way is Capote’s book.

Richard Greenberg’s adaptation, however, is dramatically inert, and the charm of the book is sadly lacking. Holly’s story is told by the writer, years later – it all took place in the 1940s – chatting to a barman in one of those bars depicted in Cheers about whatever happened to her. Mat Barber as the writer – Holly calls him Fred – tells her story with a certain gangling charm and for no very good reason shares a bath with her, which is about as daring and decadent as it gets.

But the whole thing is so badly put together and the cast so difficult to make out that the significance of Holly’s weekly visits to the gangster Sully Tomato in Sing does not sink in while the revelation that she was a child bride way back down south is completely thrown away.

It is handsomely enough set by Matthew Wright, although there is no sense of period, and director Nikolai Foster keeps it moving along briskly, which is just as well. Ms Lott sings a couple of songs, including Moon River, but oddly she does not sing them very well - the sound system giving the impression she is miming – but her fans will not doubt be pleased. The small supporting cast do what they can with underwritten roles – as Mag, Holly’s beanpole friend, Naomi Cranston, landed with a hideously unfunny drunk scene, just about gets away with it; Robert Calvert is touching as the long lost farmer husband; Joe Bell as the sentimental barman does a turn that would not disgrace Cheers; and Charlie de Mello makes a splendid hirsute Brazilian lover.

Many years ago Betty Grable appeared in a sad show called Belle Star. At the end on the first night someone in the Gods cried – “Come back again – in something else.” Ms Lott could have a future on the stage as she does have real presence and great charm but elocution lessons would help ensure it. As breakfasts go this one is far from satisfying.

Holly Golightly: Pixie Lott
Fred: Mat Barber.
Doc: Robert Calvert.
Mag: Naomi Cranston.
Jose: Charlie de Melo.
Editor & Rusty: Tim Francis.
Yunioshi: Andrew Joshi.
Mme Spanella & Stern lady boss: Melanie La Barrie.
Joe Bell: Victor McGuire.
O J Berman & Dr Goldman: Sevan Stephan.
Ensemble: Katy Allen; Andy Watkins.

Director: Nikolai Foster.
Dialect Coach: Rick Lipton.
Voice Coach: Yolanda Vazquez.
Lighting Designer: Ben Cracknell.
Sound Designer: Mic Pool.
Set & Costume Designer: Matthew Wright.
Original Music & Arrangements: Grant Olding.
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