Just in case you haven't seen the movie or read the book, there is now a stage adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany's. With all the cheer and excitement of a funeral procession, this pseudo-play unwilling drags itself through the motions, regretting its very existence, wailing the question Why? -- which would be difficult for any audience member to answer. There is a real cat in this production, one of its livelier points, and it even had the good sense to leap out of its leading lady's arms and make a premature dash for the wings. At least someone knows when to jump ship on this sinking excuse of a needless imitation.
Emilia Clarke is beautiful, energetic, eager, and way out of her league in the role of Holly Golightly.Chattering away on one sustained plane, with little variation, her performance would have stood-out in a college production, but is amateurish at this level. Offering no original insights to Capote's infamous mystery girl, Clarke ends up giving a watered down version of what Hepburn made iconic. Cory Michael Smith, fresh out of one of last year's best Off-Broadway productions (The Whale), makes a disappointing Broadway debut as Fred. Appearing as lost on this stage as Fred is in the story, Smith struggles even with his Southern accent, matching Clarke as a peewee hitter in a major league game. George Wendt makes a near-cameo appearance in the thankless role of Joe Bell, spending most of his time off stage, while leaving us to envy his absence.
Director Sean Mathias doesn't even seem to be trying. From the projections to the sliding set to the tacked-on nudity to the live cat, everything appears more designed to distract audience members from the passionless performances wilting before them than to enhance anything worth watching. Richard Greenberg's adaptation of the script rings of similar minimal efforts. Taking the easy way out with a narrating Fred, Greenberg detracts from the story rather than providing any perspective, while putting extraordinary weight on one actor who is already in over his head, a point which Smith must silently be hating him for.
It can only be assumed that the producers of this production thought they could turn a quick profit by putting some affordable celebrities in a staged version of an American classic, but they didn't put enough lipstick on this pig to make that likely. If this play adaptation accomplishes anything, it is the unlikely effect of making you actually miss Mickey Rooney's bucktoothed and tactlessly absurd portrayal of Mr. Yunioshi. - C. Jefferson Thom
The Cort Theatre is at 138 West 48th St., New York, NY 10036.
Mr. Thom lives in New York City and walks dogs, writes plays, and loves dissecting pop culture.