Glyn Maxwell’s 2013 adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s 1897 ‘heroic comedy’ CYRANO DE BERGERAC is as wild and unstoppable as the character the play is named after, written as it now is in a constantly varying theatrical style, starting with broad comedy, moving to romance, then historical drama and finally heartfelt tragedy. Featuring original songs, exciting sword fights, audience interaction, smoke, explosions, Maddermarket Theatre’s recent production of Maxwell’s play is an absolute pleasure, with great performances from the leads.
Quite rightly, Phillip Rowe totally steals the show as swashbuckling wit Cyrano de Bergerac. Larger than life (and indeed his uncooked-sausage-like nose), it is impossible to take your eyes off him for a second whenever he’s on stage, from the moment he jumps down onto the stage from the balcony to his final touching scenes at the very end of the play. Of course, the script gives him all the best lines – even if some of them are surprisingly modern and naturalistic, in comparison to 1640 setting, and the more traditional performances of the rest of the cast.
Out of these, Greg Lindsay-Smith gives Rowe the most competition, as the main antagonist Count Antoine de Guiche, with his sometimes understated, sometimes pantomimic performance providing hints of Tim Curry, or perhaps even Alan Rickman, as he goes about his evil deeds, chewing up the furniture.
Also particularly strong are Adam Edwards and Hollie Harrington-Ball as young lovers, the foolish stuttering Christian de Neuvillette and his sweet Roxane, who provide such innocent contrast to Rowe’s earthy Cyrano.
And no review would be complete without mentioning Dawn Brindle, Elizabeth Stothers, Jane Keidan, Ruth Howitt and Moira Hickson who are clearly having a ball playing a group of not-especially-religious nuns, led by Mother Margaret (Zanna Foley-Davies) who, in a framing device – created for clearly practical reasons more than anything else – tell the story of Cyrano to one of their order, and in doing so, perform a vast array of 25 supporting characters, including soldier cadets, poets and more, throughout the production.
Lots of fun, never boring and totally unpredictable, Cyrano De Bergerac is currently running until October 29th at Maddermarket Theatre.