CYRANO DE BERGERAC
based on the translation by Anthony Burgess of the play by Edmond Rostand.
Royal and Derngate (Royal auditorium) Guildhall Road NN1 7DP To 25 April.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm.
Audio-described 22 Apr (+ Touch Tour), 23 Apr 2.30pm.
BSL Signed 23 Apr 7.45pm.
Captioned 21 Apr.
Post-show Discussion 13 Apr.
TICKETS: 01604 624811.
then Northern Stage Barras Bridge NE1 7PH 29 April-16 May 2015.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm also 11 May 6pm (11, 12 May sold out) Mat Sat 2pm.
Audio-described 16 May 2pm (+ Touch Tour 12.30pm).
BSL Signed 15 May.
Captioned 14 May.
TICKETS: 0191 230 5151.
Runs 3hr One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 9 April.
Focuses on the melancholy figure at the centre.
Cyrano de Bergerac was always an oddity, its author’s only success. Like its central character, Cyrano is expansive. The man whose outsize nose makes him feel an outsider, can only express his love for beautiful Roxane as proxy for inarticulate Christian.
Between his bravura feats, composing a sonnet as he duels, or fighting overwhelming odds, Cyrano reveals the heart beneath the bravado as he secretly feeds Christian the romantic language the handsome youth cannot create. Only years later, when Christian’s dead, Roxane living in a convent and Cyrano fatally injured, does the truth emerge.
By then Cyrano has only the symbol of his confidence, “in the ash Of the ultimate combustion – my panache, as Anthony Burgess’s fine translation concludes.
The panache, literally the flamboyant plume Cyrano wears in his hat, lies strangely ignored as its dying owner refers to it. Perhaps director Lorne Campbell’s being counter-intuitive in his generally unglamorous staging.
Playing at his home, Northern Stage, after co-producing Royal and Derngate, Campbell’s production shoves this grand dramatic gesture onto a smallish stage half taken-up with seating and wall-bars, a vaulting-horse and crash-mat (forming a barrier during the siege scene) suggesting a sports-hall doubling as the kind of arts centre to which the how itself might tour.
Nigel Barrett scales his Cyrano accordingly, retaining the outward confidence and sorrow deep inside someone feared, respected and known for everything but the love he feels. He blows a whistle to marshal everyone for Rostand’s various scenes, making for a moving moment when the final whistle’s blown on his behalf.
Barrett’s Cyrano has little contest, with a number of colourless performances hanging around him. The staging misses the energy and physicality that offsets Cyrano’s zest with the fine food of his baker friend Ragueneau (George Potts, who gives a sense of rejoicing in the plenitude not in evidence here, in contrast to his sneering officer, who’s determined to settle Cyrano’s hash).
Geographically, though, it reaches parts unlikely to see a more expansive account in three dimensions and takes the opportunity, in Barrett’s Cyrano, to spotlight its poet-soldier’s nature without the usual elaborations around.
Cyrano de Bergerac: Nigel Barrett.
Le Bret/Ligniere: John Paul Connolly.
Christian: Chris Jared.
De Guiche/Ragueneau: George Potts.
Roxane: Cath Whitefield.
Ensemble: Sian Armstrong, Sam Bell, Kylie Ann Ford, Sisley Henning, Matt Howdon, James Hunter.
Director: Lorne Campbell.
Designer: Jean Chan.
Lighting: Tim Lutkin.
Musical Director: Alasdair McRae.
Vocal Director: Ros Steen.
Movement: Liv Lorent, Caroline Reece.
Assistant director: Rebecca Frecknall.