NEW YORK (AP) — If the cat is a potent symbol in the story of "Breakfast at Tiffany's," so too is it one in the new play version that has landed on Broadway.
A real cat appears in Holly Golightly's arms in Act 1 and seems, to put it mildly, dismayed. (In the last preview, it scratched the star on its way offstage.) The feline then reappears toward the end of the play to thoroughly undermine a key dramatic scene by waddling away nonchalantly. The cat is also there when the curtain falls, looking appropriately sleepy.
The cat — all three animals playing the part ludicrously get their own Playbill entries — is just one of the problems in this ill-conceived and poorly executed adaptation of a classic American tale that opened Wednesday at the Cort Theatre.
The many scenes stubbornly refuse to add up to much and it remains as flat as Golightly is supposed to be effervescent. Richard Greenberg's adaptation of Truman Capote's classic 1958 novella is extremely faithful — some chunks of dialogue have been lifted directly from the book — without adding much. Actually, director Sean Mathias has tacked on more complexity to scenes for reasons that are unclear and his transitions are often brusque.
It stars Emilia Clarke of HBO's "Game of Thrones" as the doomed eccentric party girl Golightly, a role Audrey Hepburn played to acclaim in the 1961 movie. People coming to see a sanitized Golightly, Hubert de Givenchy-inspired costumes and "Moon River" will be disappointed. This is set during World War II, not the 1960s of the film, and is much grittier, with references to homosexuality, drug use and prostitution out in the open.
Clarke gamely tries hard but tends to overact and sometimes seems to have picked the wrong Hepburn — Katharine, not Audrey — to model her accent. She says "darling" too much, appears nude in a completely unnecessary bathtub scene and plays guitar while singing in another, but that drags on so long it undercuts its poignancy. She is ultimately believable as a vulnerable woman hiding behind a sophisticated facade but is undone by a lackluster story and overly fancy direction.