It was with enormous anticipation that I waited for the curtain to come up on this stage adaptation of a much-loved film. The familiar story follows Holly Golightly (played by Coronation Street’s Georgia May Foote) – a flighty, flirty young singleton, who works her way through both men and boys as if they are going out of fashion. The unfolding of her life is commented on by Fred (Downton Abbey’s Matt Barber), a writer with big dreams and ambitions, who appears to be both enthralled and fascinated by Holly’s every move.
The ensemble cast do an especially fine job supporting the central characters. I particularly admired Victor McGuire as Joe Bell the barman, portraying a slightly tortured man who loves the young girl from a distance yet knows that really he shouldn't. And Robert Calvert as Doc, the self-deluded and ever-hopeful husband who had rescued Holly from herself years before, delivers a moving performance as a man who eventually must face defeat.
Foote, meanwhile, has the formidable task of filling the very big shoes left behind by the iconic Audrey Hepburn. Although she captures the lighter side of Holly's persona, and did a fantastic job of the two musical numbers, her portrayal was a little one-dimensional; it lacked some gravitas when it came to the more emotional and lonely unravelling of her character. And although I appreciate the fine line the direction is treading – it’s pointless to try to recreate the well-known image of Hepburn in that black dress, with hair piled high – there was something incongruous about putting Foote in a blonde wig, especially given that it doesn’t match any of the publicity.
Unfortunately, I also found Fred generally over-done and implausibly larger-than-life. The relationship between the two characters simply didn't take me with them, perhaps because too much was crammed into the running time; the pace of the show was furious, to the extent that I even struggled to understand some of the actors’ lines.
Melanie La Barrie, who was allowed to take her time over her role as a stern lady boss, was one welcome exception to that rule. To my mind, though, the show-stopping performance came from a cat – specifically the white rescue cat Bob, who entered and exited right on cue and arguably upstaged the human actors in the final moments. Using a live animal proved to be a risk worth taking, and was visibly and audibly appreciated by the whole audience around me.
All in all, while the costumes and the set were spot-on in terms of echoing the famous film, this relatively literal translation to the stage felt too much like a shadow of the original. In the end, perhaps Hepburn's act is simply impossible to follow.