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Review: Breakfast at Tiffany's (Theatre Royal Haymarket)

Chart-topper Pixie Lott makes her West End debut as Holly Golightly

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

There are many reasons why you might be tempted to think that Breakfast at Tiffany's is a good way to spend your time.

Perhaps you like Truman Capote's acid-sharp 1958 novella that introduced Holly Golightly, a woman of uncertain reputation but irresistible appeal to the world. Perhaps you fell for Audrey Hepburn in the bowdlerised movie version. Or maybe you just like the jeweller's with its distinctive turquoise boxes.

But none of the above should tempt you to this new production which puts cheap tat where the semi-precious stones should be. The characters drink throughout from plastic glasses which make the wrong sound when slammed on tables - and that small detail summed up the entire evening for me.

Richard Greenberg is one of my favourite playwrights but his new adaptation strikes an oddly sour note, emphasising the narrator's uncertain sexuality and mean disposition and downplaying the pathos behind Holly's story.

The problem is compounded by the tendency of Nikolai Foster's production to paint everything in the broadest brush strokes. Matthew Wright's sets and costumes are attractive enough but the action within them is crude and noisy. Everyone seems to be shouting. All the subtlety and sadness of this morally ambiguous story is lost.

The singer Pixie Lott is making her stage debut as Holly and it is a huge ask. She looks pretty and sings the three songs - including "Moon River" - sweetly enough, with an attractive catch in her voice. But when she is acting she looks lost, tilting her head to suggest sexual knowingness, fiddling with her dark glasses and alternating between giddiness and a knowing pout. She is touching at the end, as Holly's life tilts towards tragedy, but never does anything more than skate on the surface.

There is less excuse for Matt Barber's entirely charmless performance as the narrator Fred. He's sneering and blustery when he should be witty and compassionate.

The end result is a production that feels empty and effortful. It never engages the heart or the mind. "I wouldn't see it again if you paid me," said one disgruntled fellow audience member as we trudged out. It was hard to disagree.

Breakfast at Tiffany's runs at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until 17 September.