Written by Alina Mae Wilson
An old French story about a skilled fighter with a big nose does not really scream EXCITEMENT–and yet the Maverick Theater takes this recycled material and makes it work. Cyrano de Bergerac may have a comedic covering, but inside the story has an unexpectedly tender heart.
The story is not at all what I was expecting. Although familiar with the story of a young man with an extraordinarily long nose, I went in imagining that it was going to be mostly comedy stemming from crude jokes. I was absolutely wrong. The well choreographed fights, the passionate feelings, the attention to detail–this show is the story of Quasimodo, if Quasimodo was a complete badass with wit.
Cyrano is a skilled member of the Gascon regiment in 1600s France during the Thirty Years’ War. He is sharp of wit, fast of sword, and large of nose. Very large of nose. Both his nasally reputation and the vigor with which he repels mockery precede him (ie, he beats the pie out of anyone who laughs at him face to face). When his friend since childhood Roxane falls in love with a handsome recruit named Christian, Cyrano decides to finally express his love to her by writing letters and allowing Christian to present them as his own. This can only end well.
The choreography is delightful. Although not common, the sword fights are well paced and packed with enough action to make them look like actual sword fights and not just actors taking turns striking out at each other. All of the visual components of the play are strong and aesthetically pleasing. Now, there is a lot of background music inserted into the majority of the scenes, giving a somewhat cinematic feel to the whole thing. There are times when the music is awkward and/or distracting, but other times it works. It mostly seems overused.
Leading man Nathan Makaryk (who also did the adaptation and direction of this piece) works wonders as Cyrano. He allows Cyrano’s brash attitude to shine through while still allowing the man to be likable, he is brave, sensitive, and every moment he speaks to his beloved Roxane is a moment filled with a tenderness. He and Jaycob Hunter (Christian) operate so well with one another as they work towards wooing their love. Why anyone in the world would ever fall in love with Roxane is a question poorly answered. It isn’t clear whether or not this indecision can be properly attributed to the original writing of the show or a lack of feeling in this character’s direction. Sadly, Roxane is not terribly likable. It’s a strange dilemma, and not overly frustrating, just mildly confusing.
Cyrano de Bergerac is a fun-filled show with clever retorts, passionate speeches, and beautiful expressions of devotion. Even if the characters get a bit long-winded, this makes for a good night out.
Feb 27 – April 4th