BWW Review: Cyrano May Be Ready for the Stage, But CYRANO Is Not
I wish I had Cyrano de Bergerac's way with words. If I did, maybe it would be easier to write what I'm about to say here. City Theatre's current production of the Edmond Rostand classic, Cyrano de Bergerac has several of the elements that a show needs to succeed. It has an incomparable lead actor, two amiable supporting leads, and a text beloved by many a theatergoer. Still, due to a lackluster ensemble and odd directing choices, the production fails to gel or leave a positive impression.
I've heard rumors that this production of Cyrano suffered a short and troubled rehearsal process, and I'm sad to say that it shows on stage. At the performance I attended, most of the ensemble players looked lost and confused throughout the show, and some clearly did not know their lines. The ones that did could get the words out but failed to create a character to accompany the words. Granted, the performance I saw was during the production's opening weekend, and the cast may be stronger now than they were then.
But the bigger problem with Cyrano is the work of director Jeff Hinkle. Perhaps Hinkle was hampered by the rumored issues and challenges that befell the production, but many of his directorial choices don't serve the production well. The pacing is slow, the kiss of death for any play, especially a swashbuckling romance like Cyrano. The pacing must be tight and crisp and the stakes must be high in order for this play to work. Full cast scenes are devoid of movement and blocking (a scene involving gossiping nuns goes on for a full 5 minutes before any of them move), and some key moments, including the final minutes of the play, are drowned out by superfluous background noise. Hinkle could also benefit from some liberal trimming of the piece. Yes, Cyrano is a classic, but not every word is golden, and some bits, like the Act V tirade against Moliere, add nothing to the characters or plot. No show should have a 3 hour and 15 minute running time (if Cyrano's nose could be measured in minutes, it wouldn't be that long), and this one could easily cut a total of 30-60 minutes without losing any important content.
Still, while the production has its problems, its three leads are in great form. Nicholaus Weindel is well cast as the handsome, charming, lovesick Christian, and Lindsay McKenna brings an earthiness and warmth to the role of Roxanne. As Cyrano, Andrew Bosworth carries the show and shows, once again, why he is one of the most sought after actors in Austin. Forget Hamlet; I contend that Cyrano is one of the most complex characters in theater. He's charming, quick-witted and confident in some moments, yet vulnerable and self-doubting in others. To play such a paradoxical personality is not an easy task, but Bosworth does so in a captivating and believable way. While Cyrano could improve in many ways, Bosworth's Cyrano is perfection.
Running time: 3 hours and 15 minutes, including two 10 minute intermissions.
CYRANO DE BERGERAC plays The City Theatre (3823 Airport Blvd, Suite D, Austin 78722) now thru August 10th. Performances are Thursday - Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 5:30pm. Tickets are $15-$25. For tickets and information, visit www.citytheatreaustin.org.