March 14 – 25
Cyrano de Bergerac is one of those larger than life characters – well, his nose is certainly: a Renaissance Man, skilled in warfare as well as words,
and so many other things. His is the most ironic of love stories, as we all surely know, the epitome of unrequited love. His values, his pride and his honour, hark back to another age, while his pure devotion to Roxane adheres to the mediaevil principles of Courtly Love.
In an exquisitly designed production, the costumes are beautifully detailed as is the interior set which adapts to a variety of scenes: a theatre and Raguenea’s patisserie, the siege of Arras and the final scene in a convent garden. And it has some intriguing touches: the immense scrolls, the flickering chandeliers, and Cyrano’s silhouette outlined by a shape, like the basic template for a cartouche, which could be nose or panache.
Ah yes, the nose… hmm, well, see for yourselves, but for much of the time, it’s almost overshodowed by his hat, and said panache. You could almost say the same for Christian Edwards because his appearance and his performance are strikingly reminiscent of David Tennant, although none the worse for that. His passion and ability in this challenging role bring the hero to life. Irony again, it’s a cruel twist of Fate which brings him to death. Adam Barlow as the handsome yet lumpen Christian proves a doughty sidekick while Sharon Singh, despite her voice occasionally seeming a bit strident, proves, alas, the perfect match for Cyrano.
Another cast of thousands, all accomplished in all the arts, and all to be applauded, including Francesca Mills who stole all her scenes; Andy Cryer, although mellowing somewhat improbably as the implacable de Guiche, Michael Hugo’s witty yet hapless drunk, Ligniere, and a delicious duo chez Ragueneau from Paul Barnhill and Jessica Dyas. However, this sort of sub plot apparently serves no other purpose than making potshots at bad poets – not necessarily a bad thing, now as then. Or perhaps as a comparison with Cyrano’s incomparable lyricism. That said, the scene where he pretends to be a lunatic as a diversion to prevent de Guiche putting a stop to Roxane’s wedding to Christian is pretty dreadful; probably in the book tool, one imagines.
Nonetheless, the music and songs enhance pleasure as well as pathos, completely evoking both the joy and the pain. And speaking of incomparable lyricism, the translation in Deborah McAndrew’s adaptation is marvellous – scintillating dialogue and every drop of humour sparkling away. Some of the latter admittedly is quite risqué, and it would be interesting to see the original, in all the glory of its near as damnit alexandrines.
It comes as something of a relief to discover that Cyrano de Bergerac actually did exist. He, no doubt would have been impressed by this exhilirating (as ever) Northern Broadsides production, and so will all audiences.