Cyrano’ delivers with razor-sharp wit
No one knows a nose like Cyrano’s nose – long and erect like a beak. But do not dare, look upon it and stare or utter a word about the absurd, for Cyrano likes to fence with a sharp tongue and sword.
The Alley Theatre’s Cyrano de Bergerac is a riotous production about unrequited love and a very large nose.
Cyrano (Jeffrey Bean) earned a reputation as a brave swordsman and crafty poet whose only fault is his large nose. In the first act, Cyrano slays a nobleman with his poetic tirade and keen-edged sword after he calls his nose large. Onlookers watch in amusement and fear.
After the duel, Cyrano readies the bloodthirsty crowd for a battle between himself and 100 men. The town is humming with stories of his victory, but Cyrano can only think of Roxanne (Elizabeth Heflin).
She is admired by three men for her beauty and status. Christian (Justin Doran) is a stately man of limited intellect for whom Roxanne is smitten. De Guiche (Todd Waite) is a pristine nobleman obsessed with a woman unnerved by his advances, and Cyrano is witty and courageous but shrouds his feelings because his nose is unbecoming.
He attempts to profess his love, but first Roxanne tells him she’s fond of Christian. Cyrano and Christian work together to win Roxanne’s affection. The wordsmith writes passionate stanzas, and the looker finesses her with charm. De Guiche gets revenge and poetic justice is served.
Cyrano’s love confession in the unseeing night is an emotional triumph for he and Roxanne. However, no scene captures the depth of his imagination better than his nonsensical ramblings about his journey through space. Space travel was unheard of, so naturally De Guiche was suspicious yet captivated by the wild stories.
The production is playful and fun. The cast is outfitted in vibrant costumes, and the language is colorful. Words pour from Cyrano like lemonade on a summer day, sweet and refreshing.
The play was inspired by Cyrano de Bergerac’s own experiences. Plagues, civil wars and famine became a way of life for people in France during the 17th century, so Cyrano combated the numbness and despair with his books, poetry and integrity. In the same way, producer Edmond Rostand used Cyrano as a beacon of hope during another long, gray period.
Rostand exaggerated Cyrano’s odd nose and rebellious attitude for the production of Cyrano de Bergerac, which was a presumed failure before it debuted on Dec. 28, 1897. He had low expectations for the production and kept expenses to a minimum. But audiences were moved by the production, and Cyrano’s legend continues to find the stage.
The production runs through Nov. 2. For ticket information visit www.alleytheatre.org or call (713) 220-5700.