Theater Review - Cyrano de Bergerac (NY)

It seems only a short time ago that we saw the sublime Kevin Kline as Cyrano on stage at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. In fact, it was 2008! 


Edmond Rostand, philosopher, poet and playwright, was born in 1868 and died at the age of 50 in 1918; he is best known for bringing to life a complex character, Cyrano de Bergerac, whose disfiguring nose was an impediment to love. Thank goodness it was written before the “Nip and Tuck “programs of today!  By the way, Cyrano is not entirely fictitious; he actually existed in the 17th century as a French poet and duelist, who fought in a war between Spain and France and died at the age of 36.    


Directed by Jamie Lloyd, this Roundabout Theatre Company's very dark production at the American Airlines Theatre is still trying to find its pace. English actor Douglas Hodge, who won all top awards for his Broadway debut in “La Cage Aux Folles,” is a brilliantly energetic Cyrano, moving about the stage with alacrity, never losing sight of the humor the piece. I must say the nose they have constructed for him is the ugliest I have ever seen. 


Cyrano’s obsession, Roxane, is embodied in the perfect Clemence Poesy, who is rapturously delicate and clearly spoken.  She thinks she adores Christian, the handsome Kyle Soller, for his looks and wit, but never discovers until the very end and far too late that Cyrano has delivered the beautiful prose and poetry that wooed her for all those years.  The play is all in rhyme, 12 syllables per line.  


Patrick Page is fine, however not as slimy as he should be as Comte de Guiche, who, even though he is married, wants Roxane for his own. Frances Mercanti-Anthony is a fun baker and poet, who brings lots of needed spirit to the role of Ragueneau, both in the first and second act. 


Lit by Japhy Weidman, the Set and Costume design by Soutra Gilmour is utilitarian; in the first act in Paris, Cyrano hides in the shadows while coaching Christian, and in the second act the set is filled with smoke and fire during the war scenes in the town of Arras.  Of course, Cyrano wears his recognizable outfit: red cloak and large plumed hat!     


My complaint about “Cyrano” is the translation by Ranjit Bolt; it is coarse and actually uses the expletive beginning with the letter “S,” which sticks out like a sore thumb.   I am sure they cursed in some way in 1640-- but I have never heard it in any play of that time.


What was fun was the reference to Moliere, who is accused of stealing a scene written by Cyrano. He lived at the same time, but since I am a huge fan of Moliere's, this is possible but not probable.


“Cyrano de Bergerac”-- 2 hours and 40 minutes with one intermission, will play only through November 25.

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