Most people would be familiar with the story of Cyrano De Bergerac – doesn’t ring a bell? – perhaps you’re more familiar with the 1987 film adaptation Roxanne, with Steve Martin as the plays protagonist Cyrano. Written in 1897, the themes of Edmond Rostand’s play are as relevant today as when he wrote it. Questions of what is beauty? What form does it take? What is love and how can we see past false ideals? Courage and identity are highlighted as prominent themes, with the Sport for Jove adaptation being set during the years leading up of the First World War.
From the time he takes to the stage in Act I, until the moment he exits at the plays conclusion, Cyrano – played brilliantly by Damien Ryan – steals the show. His wit, passion and sheer presence holds the audience in the palm of his hand. For anyone not familiar with the story, Cyrano has one particularly defining feature – an exceptionally large nose – and it is this appendage which provides so many of the plays laughs. Not least of all when the man himself begins to list off all the potential insults that could be used in reference to him.
We quickly discover that Cyrano is desperately in love with his childhood friend, the incredibly sought after Madeleine Robin (Roxanne), played beautifully by Lizzie Schebesta. Unfortunately, while it is clear she is very fond of our protagonist, her affections are directed toward a more appealing recipient, the classically handsome soldier Christian de Neuvillette (Scott Sheridan). Captivated by his courage and well-proportioned good looks, Roxanne seemingly overlooks the fact that he really isn’t the greatest conversationalist. Imploring him to write to her, Christian employs the help of Cyrano to secure her affections. This farce plays out with hilarious results, as the pair maintain the ruse even after they are called to the battlefield.
I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say it’s potentially not what you expect. Once again Sport for Jove have delivered a sensational adaptation, with the entire cast putting forward an exceptional performance. Perhaps one of my favourite moments was the playing of the Imperial March from Star Wars to signal the arrival of the Army Commander De Guiche (James Lugton) – once again demonstrating how this innovative theatre company seamlessly and cleverly introduce contemporary elements into their unique adaptions. Nothing short of brilliant.
Cyrano De Bergerac will enjoy performances at Sydney’s Seymour Centre until 24th June 2017. For more information and to buy tickets head to https://www.seymourcentre.com/events/event/cyrano-de-bergerac/
Photo by Phil Erbacher. The writer attended on 17th June 2017.