Tag Archives: Grant olding

REVIEW: Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Truman Capote’s heroine Holly Golightly was unforgettably immortalised on celluloid in 1961 by the incomparable Audrey Hepburn. Capote’s novella is a much darker beast than the movie adaptation and it is on this source material that Tony Award-winning Richard Greenberg’s stage version is based, returning the action to Capote’s original post-Depression 1940s.

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It’s a world where a whole generation of young men are at war and those left behind are in limbo. In their tiny apartments in a down at heel brownstone, dwarfed by the mighty New York skyline, aspiring writer Fred (As Holly calls him) lives upstairs, excused from active duty due to asthma and struggling to get a break. Downstairs, good-time girl Holly relies on a string of middle-aged suitors to make ends meet. As Holly flits from man to man and Fred finds work elusive, Fred charts their dysfunctional relationship in a series of flash-backs.

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In Greenberg’s wordy adaptation, the success of the players varies considerably. Matt Barber’s Fred is a delight from start to finish, onstage throughout, he has whole swathes of Capote’s wonderful prose to recite and his emotional journey from infatuated admirer, to confidant, to lover, to heartbreak, is beautifully judged.

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Hepburn is a hard act to follow, and however removed her portrayal of Holly is compared to Capote’s original creation, it is indelibly etched on everyone’s mind. Emily Atack, in her first stage outing lacks the magnetism that the role requires, her delivery is flat, dialogue is rushed and her accent wildly varied, it is an unremittingly dull performance from start to end. Holly is a charismatic, vivacious, irresistible creation and how Fred ever becomes entranced is hard to fathom in Atack’s characterisation. And while she looks lovely, she is far from ‘this exquisite extrovert who every woman wants to be and every man wants to be with”. Where she does shine (like her distant cousin Paul McCartney) is in the three (somewhat incongruous) songs: Oklhoma’s People Might Say We’re in Love, Grant Olding’s newly penned country-tinged Hold Up My Dying Day and, of course, in Moon River.

In a cast of 12, Greenberg’s adaptation only really allows these two main characters to register, but Robert Calvert as Doc, Holly’s past writ large, makes a mark – sensitively played, it tugs at the heartstrings.

There’s also a cat, an amazing cat, a cat so well trained it’s hard to believe it’s a real cat, and when Bob the cat garners more reaction than many of the actors, you know you’re possibly not in a good place.

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The thing that shines like a great big Tiffany diamond is Matthew Wright’s scenic design. Technically impressive, the scene transitions; from the apartments, the steel fire escape, Joe’s Bar and all manner of locations, fall in from the flies and from the side of the stage with impressive ease and all accompanied by an evocative soundtrack and atmospheric lighting from Ben Cracknell, that lend the whole production a filmic quality.

There’s real potential here, Barber and the supporting cast are excellent, the set design period-perfect and atmospheric, but it lacks a leading lady to set the stage on fire – too much surface and no substance consigns one of the literary world’s greatest creations to being a stage flop. It’s a pity.

Image credits: Alan Geary/Sean Ebsworth Barnes

REVIEW: One Man Two Guv’nors – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Review originally written for and published by http://www.thepublicreviews.com

It is testament to the writing skills of Richard Bean and the supreme talent of the energetic and committed cast that an obscure 18th Century Commedia dell’Arte farce has a packed audience of 21st Century Glaswegians rolling in the aisles. Bean’s One Man, Two Guv’nors has been appearing throughout the country to almost universal acclaim almost perpetually since its smash hit arrival in 2011 at the National Theatre and on this, its third national tour it has lost none of its ability to raise a laugh.

It’s 1963, Brighton, and Francis Henshall a man always on the lookout for an opportunity, has managed to secure himself two jobs with two different guv’nors. One, Roscoe Crabbe is a local gangster of formidable reputation, the other, Stanley Stubbers, a posh twit of a petty criminal. Francis does his level best to keep the two from learning of the others existence. But, to complicate matters, Roscoe is actually twin sister Rachel in disguise, Roscoe having been ‘accidentally’ murdered by Rachel’s love Stanley Stubbers. Thrown into the mix are the Clenches; Charlie, who owes Roscoe money and his daughter Pauline, previously betrothed to Roscoe to hide his homosexuality, but who is now set to marry would-be actor Alan Dangle, book-keeper Dolly and a host of other misfits.

The success of the piece depends on two factors, the writing and the cast, and in both cases they are top-notch. The rapid-fire dialogue and the break-neck speed physical comedy are delivered with aplomb by the talented ensemble cast, and this is the perfect example of a true ensemble cast: whilst much of the action lies heavy on the shoulders of a few principal actors, this is a piece where everyone has their moment to shine.

Gavin Spokes is an amiable and energetic Francis who gets the crowd on his side from the off and Alicia Davies a spot-on Roscoe/Rachel. Edward Hancock is an hysterical Alan (previously Orlando) Dangle; the reason for the change of name explained by the fact that angry young men of the 60’s are not called Orlando, his over the top luvvi-ness as the would be thesp is met with peals of laughter at every entry. The rest of the cast too, are pitch-perfect. The whole piece is punctuated before, during and after by skiffle band The Craze who deliver period atmosphere with first rate musicianship and bags of charm.

It’s good to see that a piece of such quality is still packing them in and has lost none of its sparkle. Do yourself a favour and get a dose of theatrical Prozac at the King’s Theatre until Saturday.

4.5*s

Runs until Sat 5 July 2014 then touring