By Thom Geier
March 20, 2013 at 04:00 AM EDT
Nathan Johnson

The late Truman Capote sure could use a huckleberry friend. Richard Greenberg’s new stage adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a meandering misfire lacking the charm and oomph of either Capote’s 1958 novella or the 1961 movie that cemented Audrey Hepburn’s reputation as the height of sophisticated urbanity.

Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke has the thankless task of performing in the indelible shadow of Hepburn. And though the British-born actress struggles gamely to make the role her own, she comes off as shrill rather than insouciant. (Though she has a shapelier figure than the waifish Hepburn, Clarke does look great in Colleen Atwood’s form-fitting costumes.) Cory Michael Smith, an Off Broadway vet who had memorable turns last year in the Off Broadway hits Cock and The Whale, is similarly stymied in the George Peppard role — here named Fred, not Paul, a young Southerner striving to make it as a writer in 1940s New York City.

Though Fred is clearly intended to be a stand-in for Capote himself, he curiously spends much of the first act trailing after Holly like a lovesick puppy; she alone seems to intuit his gay identity. He even rebuffs the advances of an older gentleman at the 21 Club. By the second act, though, Fred emerges more clearly as a closeted gay man in a buttoned-up era that called for more discretion than he could sometimes manage.

Greenberg’s entire first act is a slog, bogged down with dreary exposition and the introduction of far too many quirky but uninteresting characters. (Sean Mathias’ listless direction does the script no favors.) It’s telling that the supporting player who makes the strongest impression is Vito Vincent, who plays Holly’s adoptive feline companion, Cat (Vito shares the role with Montie and Moo). There are too many scenes that just sit there, failing to delight and robbing the play of any semblance of narrative momentum. At one point, Smith’s Fred even reads aloud from his journal: ”Time continues to pass without meaning.” Amen, brother. C-

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