Cyrano de Bergerac
Playwright Edmond Rostand
Adaptation & Direction by Damien Ryan
Produced by Sport For Jove
Photos by Phil Erbacher
Seymour Centre York Theatre
Reviewed by Ron Lee, CSP
We all know Edmond Rostand’s 17th century story of Cyrano de Bergerac, the poet/writer/soldier/nobleman who was in love with Roxane whom he’d known for many years but thought that his prominent proboscis would prevent her from being attracted to him; a classic tale of unrequited love.
To confirm Cyrano’s illusion, Roxane falls in love with Christian, a handsome young man of limited intelligence and literacy. Roxane is turned on by romantic poetry, Christian has no idea and Cyrano’s love of Roxane compels him to unselfishly write verse on behalf of Christian.
Christian eventually experiences a deep sense of regret and guilt, but a catastrophe happens before he can come clean with Roxane and the lie lives on.
This latest production of Cyrano de Bergerac has been updated, modified and contemporised while maintaining the verse, the rhyming couplets and the iambic pentameter.
The time period has been moved about 300 years into the future to start in 1913 Paris. There are plenty of big-nose one-liners, including some groan-worthy puns and references to the time period. It also has one of the most protracted death scenes in theatrical history.
Damien Ryan carries the title role necessarily well and is supported by a strong cast that includes Lizzie Schebesta as the strong but gullible Roxane, Scott Sheridan as Christian, Julian Garner and veteran actors John Turnbull and Wendy Strehlow.
Anna Gardiner’s costumes are excellent and her set design is imaginative and effective, although the fact that it’s a touring production has dictated that there’s a lot of York Theatre stage for that set.
In any production in which the playwright/adapter is also the director who plays the challenging lead role, there is the strong possibility of self-indulgence, but Damien Ryan had the wisdom to appoint Scott Witt as the Assistant Director.
This is an ambitious production of Cyrano de Bergerac and Sport For Jove has pulled off an interesting and compelling theatrical experience.