Review: CYRANO at Heath Ledger Theater

Modern take on theatre classic is the perfect beginning to season 2023.

By: Feb. 25, 2023
Review: CYRANO at Heath Ledger Theater

Review: CYRANO at Heath Ledger Theater The play Cyrano de Bergerac surprised audiences upon its initial release before the turn of the 20th century and quickly became a runaway success, and it has enjoyed many successful iterations throughout the world since. It has been retranslated from its original French many times, and has been able to be reimagined, updated, and re-set for different times. In Virginia Gay's reimagining of the story, it is stripped back and rebuilt as a play for our times in our times, without giving up the power of words and the fantasy that contribute to the narrative. In its transformation, CYRANO becomes a multi-layered and quick witted masterpiece and a perfect way for BLACK SWAN Theatre Company to kick off season 2023.

The stage is deceptively simple, in fact it takes close inspection to see that it is not in fact the actual back stage area. There is more to the stage (brilliantly designed by Elizabeth Gadsby and brought to life by Jo Briscoe) than meets the eye, with many ordinary parts of a stage coming to life later. What's more, a broken wall serves to not only separate the action, but it creates a rift between the performers, and at several points someone who is off the play stage is still very much visible to the audience. The metaphor of a broken wall between the audience and the off stage area- a broken fourth wall- is immediately played upon as well, and the characters address each other then address the audience, and throughout the entire show there is a delightful fluidity as the characters go from actors to characters in the play to audience members, adding an extra layer of reflection to the parts they play.

Review: CYRANO at Heath Ledger Theater

The title role is played by Virginia Gay, who has rebuilt the character to change and add to the original work. The tragedy of Cyrano is redone, so whilst the character is still self-deprecating, Gay's Cyrano is fierce, confident and whip-smart. The character arch is entirely new, and Virginia Gay ensures the audience is along for every part of it, from the satisfying highs to the crushing lows. Her character is brought up and down by her love interest Roxanne, played by Tuuli Narkle. We meet Roxanne as she roller skates onto stage in a sparkly sweater, and her character matches her introduction. Whilst Roxanne has an irresistible verve, Narkle also ensures her character is sharp and funny, whilst matching Cyrano in some wonderful verbal duels. The third part of the love triangle is Joel Jackson as Christian. Whilst the brains/braun dichotomy that drives the show leaves Jackson to portray a level of air-headedness, he has charm and impeccable timing.

The cast is rounded out by a chorus of three, who between them play a multitude of parts on top of the actors they begin as. They serve as the many supplementary voices one hears in a play- actors, directors, friends, and even audience members. It's a fair work oad for three cast members and yet they all do a wonderful job. Zenya Carmellotti is wise, Robin Goldsworthy is hilariously well intentioned, and Holly Austin is sweet but aloof. The three of them turn many voices and ideas into three delightful characters that add more than your average chorus despite being much less in number.

CYRANO describes itself as a love letter both to theatre and hope. Virgini Gay's writing and changes to the traditional format immediately grab you, and the audience as much as the characters are led to reflect on what and who they love. Gay weaves a rich web of language that captivates you from lights out to the joyous finale. What's more, the entire, diverse audience will leave with a smile, with the accessibility and broad appeal of this love letter to theatre giving a little something to everyone.

CYRANO is at Heath Ledger Theatre until March 5th. Tickets and more information from Click Here Theatre Company.

Images thanks to Daniel J Grant. Video from BLACK SWAN Theatre Company/YouTube.

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