If romance is dead, nobody told Holly Golightly, the self-invented good time girl at the heart of Truman Capote's 1958 novella, made iconic in Blake Edwards' big-screen adaptation three years later. Nikolai Foster's Curve Theatre, Leicester production of Richard Greenberg's stage adaptation opens with Emily Atack's Holly gazing at her own shop-soiled reflection clad in regulation little black number and movie star shades as Moon River serenades her. In terms of button-pressing homage, however, that's as far as it goes.
Here Matt Barber's would-be writer Fred narrates the story of a woman he might easily have dreamt up, and who already seems to be every man's fantasy figure as she burls her way through New York's high and low 1940s society with bohemian abandon. When her past and present collide with suitably dramatic panache, the country girl who chased something more glamorous in the big city is as quick to go on the run as she ever was.
Atack's Holly is a knowingly self-aware construction in what is a charming but no less grown up love letter to the ultimate unconsummated passion. Sure, Holly strums a guitar and sings herself a lullaby in private, but in public, with her steely front protecting the damaged goods behind, like the man said, she remains the realest phony of all. Crucially as well, Holly becomes Fred's muse in a way that sees him plundering the raw material of their brief encounter and transforming it into an epic adventure as he finds his voice beyond boyish sentimentalism. In the end, there are no Hollywood happy ever afters here, only long goodbyes in a bittersweet affair to remember.
The Herald, May 25th 2016