Cyrano de Bergerac at South Coast Repertory
Add a pinch of action, a spoon-full of satire, a cup of well-written dialogues and you have the recipe for a classic story and a night to remember. Planting its temporary stepping stone on the Segerstrom Stage at the South Coast Repertory from May 21 to June 27 is a Mark Ruckner (‘Much Ado about Nothing,’ ‘The Taming of the Shrew’) directed production of ‘Cyrano de Bergerac,’ originally written by Edmund Rostand and adapted and translated by Anthony Burgess (‘A Clockwork Orange’).
Cyrano Savinien Hercule de Bergerac, played by Mark Harelik (‘Beard of Avon,’ ‘Tartuffe’) was a romantic swordsman who loved poetry more than anything in the world. His words made everyone melt and his swordsmanship would have anyone’s throat at the edge of his sword. However the tragic flaw of a grotesquely large nose prevented him from ever finding confidence in love. Hot-tempered at the slightest mention of his nose, Cyrano was still well-liked among the others for his wit and eloquence.
In love with his long time friend Roxane, played by Susannah Schulman (‘The Taming of the Shrew,’ ‘A Christmas Carol’), Cyrano shortly found out that she was fond of a brutish cadet named Christian de Neuvillette, played by Ryan Bittle (‘7th Heaven,’ ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’). Christian seeks the help of Cyrano for his poetic abilities to court Roxane. Pretending to be a mediator and a matchmaker, this symbiotic relationship also allowed Cyrano to be closer to Roxane.
Little does Roxane know, every word that made her fall in love with Christian was provided by the deepest inner core of Cyrano’s heart and that he loved her with every bit of his soul. Unfortunately, Christian died in the French and Spanish War and Roxane was left a widow. Cyrano’s love for Roxane was slowly revealed 14 years later, shortly before his death.
The stage set designs by Riccardo Hernandez were simple, bright and crisp with a tint of green on a beige surface which accommodated well to the lavish and colorful Musketeer costumes by Shigeru Yaji.
The lighting by Chris Parry revealed every mood of the play, beginning with a bright and warm mood, and then ending the play with a somber and cold feeling.
The original music by Steven Cahill brought out the neoclassic feel of the play. The sounds of the guitar and flute lightened the mood of the play.
And finally, the fight scenes were made real by the incredible choreography of Daniel R. Forcey and Aaron Angello. Every clash of the sword and every fall of a victim confirmed their artistic expressions.
The often rhythmic rhymes were appropriately fast and slow at different points of the play.
Loaded with sarcasm and satire, the witty characters imparted complex wordplay along with excellent swordplay.
The complexity of the lines seemed easy for the actors whose presence graced the stage with endless talent. Mark Harelik’s portrayal of Cyrano de Bergerac earned him such respect by the audience that he received a standing ovation at the end of the play.
The subtle jokes allowed for great audience connections and the bittersweet ending topped it all off.
For a first-time ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ spectator, this play offers nothing but satisfaction and appreciation for the complexity and a job well done. As for avid ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ fans, this play will make you proud as this elementally loaded play of romance, comedy, tragedy and action is one of a kind.
With a running time of about three hours including two 10-minute intermissions, the five-act play runs from May 28 to June 27.