Review-Breakfast at Tiffany's


By: Lisa Middleton


Holly Golightly is one of those literary characters that academic folks love to talk about since she isn't as cut and dried as she initially appears. She might first seem like a party girl with no substance, who cares only about money and about finding the next fun thing, but if we spend a little time with her we see that there's a lot more there. It is the story of a young woman in World War II era New York who hobnobs with famous people, gets into a lot of trouble, and breaks many hearts along the way, all while struggling to find her place in the world. And it's one of Truman Capote's most famous works, due in large part to the film adaptation of it.  Everything about Breakfast at Tiffany’s has become culturally iconic and is sure to last the test of time. 


The short novel was written in 1958, and in 1961 the film version starring  Audrey Hepburn was released. It was her portrayal of Holly Golightly that made the film a hit, and Hepburn's dark glasses and little black dress soon became fashion icons. The film also featured a soundtrack by musician Henry Mancini, and "Moon River," the song he created for the movie's theme, won an Oscar and is considered a classic as well.


Gabriella So’s auteur vision attempts to bring Holly’s darkest moments in the character’s history to light. Performing a one-woman play is a brave task to set oneself and had the potential to be a fantastic piece of visionary work.  


This production was strangely told by the ghost of Catherine Earnshaw from Wuthering Heights; a concept which seemed a little abstract and unnecessary in my opinion. Gabriella failed to change her physicality, tone of voice or general demeanor when trying to portray the ghost of someone who was haunted due to a lost love.  Wearing a white shrug over Hollys little black dress failed to really give the image of a different character. Perhaps a long flowing white nightgown would have been a better way of making the transformation for the audience.  The appearance of Catherine Earnshaw in the play was also largely obscured as the actress decided to use the gallery above our heads. At times the lighting did not highlight the character, so many in the audience were confused about where the voice was coming from.  


We were told that we would see Holly at three different times in her life but the lack of information in the programme made working out the timeline very difficult. Her one-way interaction and conversations with imaginary characters did little to provide a timeline for the audience.  It turned out that the timeline was not linear either which made things difficult for us to follow. The concept and delivery for this version of “Breakfast at Tiffany's” was too abstract for a timeline not to be clearly benchmarked in a programme or through playcards. 


There was a lot of leaning thoughtfully on furniture and giggling in reactions on stage during the play but the audience were not privy to why this was actually happening, as the conversations were one sided and voiceovers were not provided. If Gabrielle was going with this concept for the production, her actions and dialogue needed to be clearer for the audience to follow.


Physically, there was dancing and gazing into the distance but did little to explain what was happening around the character.  An inappropriate portion of the performance was delivered facing away from the audience. It came across as distracting because it was never explained why this artistic choice was made.


Scene changes were at times lengthy, and later unsettling when Gabriella would pick up a piece of the set to move it seemingly without purpose. Stagehands were clearly available and there seemed to be little motivation on why the furniture was moving.


I can imagine it is not easy to deliver a play in a second language but at times the dialogue was difficult to understand and could have benefitted from clearer pronunciation. I can forgive and understand the ‘Woothering Heights’ but I find it difficult to understand the mispronunciation of ‘crow’ – it does not rhyme with ‘how’!  


Her portrayal of Holly was missing the innocence of the character as written by Capote. Yes, this woman had been mistreated by men for most of her life but she retained a lot of her innocence which was missing from this production. In this version it appeared that Holly was a femme fatale from the age of 16. 


This performance was also plagued with one of the rudest audiences I have ever experienced. So many people were using their phones! From a lady on the front row who was whatsapping her friend (yes, I used that as a verb) throughout the show, to a lady who was listening to a voice message and somehow managed to put it on loudspeaker!  A large group of what I presumed to be drama students or the like, spent the majority of the play whispering and gesturing dramatically which was very off-putting for everyone and a house manager who kept moving people around to make room for large groups who arrived to the performance late. This didn’t affect my scoring of the show but I couldn’t help but feel they needed to show more respect!


I went to this play with few expectations but was secretly hoping to be entertained and delighted by the portrayal of one of our most iconic female characters from literature and film but when I found myself cringing throughout the play it was clear that my hopes were dashed. The difficulty of writing, producing, directing and acting all at the same time can make it hard to find the balance between the technical, acting and theoretical heart of a show. There was one person doing too many jobs and perhaps she was too close to the situation to step back and look at the overall picture. I’m hoping that she will take the constructive cricism of the work to help her protrayal of Holly grow to be better. This play has a lot of potential and if the ego is removed then it would be a thing of beauty.


Breakfast at Tiffany's is playing through July 12th. For more information, click here.



Related articles:

hongkong, theatre, review

Rate This Show: 1 2 3 4 5 Audience Rating: 1.0


No comment at the moment.

Post New Comment