Written by French romantic Edmond Rostand in 1897, Cyrano de Bergerac is a swashbuckling, verse riddled play based on the life of the real Cyrano de Bergerac. Produced by Black Swan State Theatre Company in association with Happy Dagger Theatre at the Playhouse Theatre, this current production is funny, touching and entertaining.
Rostand’s play was translated and adapted for Australian audiences by Andrew Upton and Marion Potts in the late 1990’s. They manage to retain much of the verse structure that it was written in, creating a rhythm and pace to the production that adds to the historic fairytale style. This cast of seven directed superbly by Marcelle Schmitz uses the rhythm well, although opening night nerves caused the first half to flow slower than it should be.
Bryan Woltjen’s set design was simple, with the main focus on an elegant spiral staircase stretching to the heavens. Curtains and moveable rostrum were used to great effect creating at various times a shop, a carriage, battle front, and a stage. His costumes were outstanding period outfits in a range of colours. Special mention must be made of the magnificent dress worn by Renee McIntosh as Roxane.
The lighting design by Andrew Lake complimented the fairytale like nature of the piece, using soft blue and orange hues and spotlights. Congratulations must go to fight director Andy Fraser, who choreographed some excellent scenes in the early half. However, a few more practices would benefit the actors, as some of it was overanalyzed.
Leon Ewing’s compositions were an unusual mesh of simple melodies reminiscent of “old Paris”, and current rock style interludes that were jarring to the senses. This was the only technical element that I didn’t fully enjoy.
Andrew Hale was a brilliant Cyrano once he warmed into the role. He exuded the wit, charm and poetical way with words needed to make de Bergerac a rouge yet likeable character. The audience empathised with him as he lusted after the beautiful Roxane, even whilst he helped his younger comrade Christian woo her.
Jai Courtney, making his Black Swan debut, was excellent as the besotted yet lost for words Christian. As Roxane, the only female character played by a female in this production, Renee McIntosh was demure when required, feisty when wanted, and devoted to the poetry of Cyrano’s words.
The humour in the play came primarily from the bit parts. Rostand wrote Cyrano de Bergerac for 30 cast members, Upton and Potts translated it for thirteen. Here, Schmitz has managed to get four outstanding actors to play over 30 parts, often in the same scene. Roderick Cairns, Richie Flanagan, Luke Hewitt and Steve Turner must be congratulated for so many roles and their ability to switch between them in seconds. Hewitt in particular brought the largest laughs whilst playing the many minor female roles.
In the end however, it was all about the words. And Rostand excels with words. The love of poetry that is evident in his writing and portrayal of Cyrano is a joy to behold. How could anyone resist this?
"And what is a kiss, specifically? A pledge properly sealed, a promise seasoned to taste, a vow stamped with the immediacy of a lip, a rosy circle drawn around the verb 'to love.' A kiss is a message too intimate for the ear, infinity captured in the bee's brief visit to a flower, secular communication with an aftertaste of heaven, the pulse rising from the heart to utter its name on a lover's lip: 'Forever.'" (Act 3)Even the 3 ½ hour running time did not deter the audience from enjoying the poetry and swashbuckling tale of love and honour. Black Swan’s and Happy Dagger’s production of Cyrano de Bergerac is a wonderful night’s entertainment, an excellent production.
Black Swan Theatre Company in association with Happy Dagger Theatre presents
Cyrano de Bergerac
By Edmond Rostand
Adapted by Andrew Upton | From a translation by Marion Potts and Andrew Upton
Venue: Playhouse Theatre, 3 Pier Street, Perth
Season: 18 October – 2 November 2008
Tickets: Standard $45 / Concession $40 / Previews $35 / Groups 6+ $38 / Students $20
Bookings: BOCS Ticketing (08) 9484 1133, www.bocsticketing.com.au , BOCS Group Bookings (08) 9321 6831. Please note: BOCS transaction fees may apply.