Truman Capote's glory days as a celebrated writer were revisited at the opening of Richard Greenberg's Breakfast at Tiffany's on Wednesday night at the Cort Theater, and a black and white ball -- eh, bash -- at the Edison Ballroom. The play starts with a narrator called Fred reminiscing about a New York brownstone where he once lived, and a particularly spectacular neighbor, Holly Golightly with whom he partied and took baths. The tall and lanky, handsome "Fred" (Cory Michael Smith) may be the epitome of everything that the "bulldog" Capote was not, but the self-invented Holly (Emilia Clarke), one of his greatest creations, hews close to the author's bone.
Bartender Joe Bell (George Wendt) admires her most of all for being an authentic fake. He is in love with her, in his way, as perhaps the play wants us all to be. While some may find the special invention of her labored Britishish accent a bit grating, even though Clarke is British, her voice goes along with Holly's anxiety of being. If you are looking for an incarnation of Audrey Hepburn, look elsewhere. This Holly as directed by Sean Mathias goes dark, closer to Capote's novella than the 1966 Blake Edwards movie. You get in this version what Capote may have seen in her, a tragic figure not unlike Christopher Isherwood's Sally Bowles or Tennessee Williams' Amanda Wingfield. Leave it to Richard Greenberg to fashion this story, like The Glass Menagerie, as a memory play.
Especially effective in Breakfast at Tiffany's are the many party scenes with an ensemble in manic mode. Tony Torn plays Rusty Trawler with comic flair honed in the plays of Richard Foreman, or as a Stepford husband. Here as a man easily cuckolded, the stage lights up when he is on it. At the after party, hosted by Debbie Harry, the actor said he was particularly gratified to be making his Broadway debut at the Cort Theater, where his mother Geraldine Page performed.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.