BWW Reviews: CYRANO DE BERGERAC, Royal and Derngate, April 2015
The first production of Royal and Derngate's 2015 Made in Northampton season is a co-production of CYRANO DE BERGERAC with Northern Stage, which spends three weeks in the Royal auditorium before a run at Northern Stage itself.
Lorne Campbell has set this version in a gym, complete with vaulting horses, bleachers, climbing bars and an ensemble (six actors from Northern Stage's NORTH 15 training programme) dressed in fencing gear with a rotating set of period accessories as they switch roles. I'm still trying to work out why the staging was done like this - I found it and the ensemble's clambering and screeching a distraction.
Nigel Barrett's Cyrano shows flashes of swagger and the famous panache and at points really makes his lines sing. Chris Jared comes in to his own as Christian in his confrontation with Cyrano at the siege - only showing you how good he is just before his death removes him from the stage. George Potts is very effective as de Guiche and Ragueneau, while John Paul Connelly has mastered the art of the unobtrusive exit - as he switches between Le Bret and Ligniere. Cath Whitefield's Roxanne may not be golden haired, but she is suitably gaga over Christian whilst seeing Cyrano as a brother.
This is described as based on Anthony Burgess's translation of Edmond Rostand's play, but as it was my first stage Cyrano, I can't give you precise details on exactly what's been changed - although I have my suspicions. When this production works, it is when you can forget the staging and concentrate on Burgess's words, but sadly that doesn't happen quite enough. The cast are giving it their best shot, but it felt like a very long evening - and at over three hours - two of which are before the interval - it is really!