SHOW: Holly’s Dead Soldiers (A Breakfast Play)
GROUP: Bruce Walsh, Douglas Williams and Chris Davis
ATTENDED: Sat., Sept. 7, 11 a.m., Bruce Walsh’s house in Northern Liberties
CLOSES: Sat., Sept. 14
BRIEF SELF-DESCRIPTION: Bruce Walsh challenges two of his favorite playwrights to “adapt Breakfast at Tiffany's to our own homes and voices: three writers, two living rooms, Capote, beer, and breakfast.”
WE THINK: Adapting any classic is a messy business: there are the diehard fans to appease, but pander to them with too many insider references and those audience members unfamiliar with the source material feel excluded or confused. Holly’s Dead Soldiers, based on Breakfast at Tiffany’s, avoids these pitfalls while creating something inherently special as it transposes Truman Capote’s love story to present-day Philadelphia. Making references to ?uestlove, Old City horse rides and McNabb’s rumored Super Bowl vomiting, the humor had some audience members close to tears, myself included. It also didn’t hurt that we were served cold beer and slices of homemade quiche before the breakfast play began.
Part of what makes Holly’s Dead Soldiers so enjoyable is seeing the clever ways in which the three playwrights interpreted the book. The modern-day narrator (Andrew Carroll) boasts a scruffy look, wearing suspenders, tight black pants and socks with holes. Rather than resent the dirty hipster, we're made to pity him as he pursues the unattainable Holly Golightly, forever remembered as a lilting-voiced, sophisticated Audrey Hepburn, but replaced here with a loud-mouthed, purple-haired version (Kristen Bailey). This Holly doesn’t possess any of the original’s naïveté or sweetness, though; she’s all wisecracks and bad behavior (in one scene, she has a portrait of Hemingway mime fellatio). Because of this characterization, Holly doesn’t conjure the same empathy, but she still casts a seductive spell, making us recall the narrator’s early lines: a smart and beautiful woman can be more trouble than she’s worth.
By staging the show at one of the playwrights' homes, this story of unrequited love becomes all the more intimate, as if the audience is peeking through the curtains and watching heartbreak happen in real-time.
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