Cyrano de Bergerac, authored by Edmond Rostand over a century ago in 1897, can still make audiences’ hearts beat in 2015, and perhaps will continue to do so for many more years, or as long as the essence of heartfelt love prevails in the world. Yes, there is love—and then there is the love that pours out of the inner heart or soul like it oozes out of Cyrano de Bergerac’s heart for Roxane. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company‘s production certainly captures this passion and intensity.
The combination of a poet by virtue and a warrior through attitude can be one of the most powerful and uplifting characters, yet, an extraordinarily elongated nose can pose as the biggest self-saboteur when it comes to expressing genuine love. And that is exactly what happens in the life of Cyrano de Bergerac when he attempts to demonstrate his love for Roxane. The inner awkwardness of Cyrano, who is otherwise brilliant and charismatic, never could allow him to rise above his large nose.
Roxane, instead, is fascinated by cadet Christian de Neuvillette, charming in physical appearance but no match for her intellect. An otherwise ordinary man, Christian feels attraction towards Roxane though is in utter disbelief that someone like Roxane could fall for him. Christian is tongue-tied and can’t come up with anything better than the cliché, “I love you” for Roxane. Therefore, he has to solicit Cyrano’s help, borrowing Cyrano’s poetic words through his lips as well as through his love letters. The lie becomes the truth and the truth turns out to be blood and tears. And the story goes on towards the ultimate revelation.
Jeremy Dubin is as sharp as his sword in portraying Cyrano de Bergerac on stage. Though no other characters could challenge Jeremy’s poignancy, collectively they all are able to develop and flow through this rather lengthy play that lasted for nearly three hours. Caitlin McWethy renders a great portrayal of Roxane but I expected a bit more sharpness of her intelligence and intellect, which were hooded under the charm of her beauty and elegance. Tia LeShaun Davis as Roxane’s Duenna definitely deserves a solid mention.
Director of the play, Brian Isaac Phillips, is known for his mastery in theater and he once again proved his brilliance in Cyrano de Bergerac. Manipulating the complex compositions and movements of multiple characters on stage as well as off-stage at times, his thoughtfulness clearly comes through as the maestro.
Andrew J. Hungerford’s scenic design is simply spectacular in this play. His craftsmanship in designing the set definitely transports us back to the era and adds additional dimension to the play. From the theatre house to the bakery shop to the war front and eventually to the convent – everywhere Andrew leaves impressions of remarkable dexterity.
Costume designer Amanda McGee must have poured out her imagination and wizardry in her creation of costumes for all. They are so well balanced, befitting the characters, and the color combinations are definitely eye catching.
Fight coordination, by Gina Cerimele-Mechley, perhaps needed a little more thorough work, especially with the sword fight scenes, to make it more realistically appealing and flawless. The actors attempted their best with the fighting movements, though the swords at times didn’t synchronize as they should have had.
Barring very few fumbles in dialogue, the entire team lived up to its reputation and professionalism. It is strongly recommended for all theater loving audiences to attend this play, a must if one has any inclination or affection towards good theater.