CYRANO DE BERGERAC: Everyone Nose

CYRANO DE BERGERAC: Unrequited Love

A Theater Review by Julinda D. Lewis

At: Swift Creek Mill Theatre, 17401 Jefferson Davis Highway, Colonial Heights, VA 23834

Performances: January 26 – March 2, 2019

Ticket Prices: $40 Theater only; $57 Dinner & Theater

Info: (804) 748-5203 or swiftcreekmill.com

Edmond Rostand wrote Cyrano de Bergerac in 1897 and many are familiar with this classic, either as a reading assignment in high school or from Steve Martin’s 1987 comedy named for Cyrano’s love interest, “Roxanne.” But it is another thing entirely to see Cyrano performed live onstage, and still be moved to laughter by the 17th century poet’s flowery words and braggadocio and touched by the hero’s uncharacteristically humble acceptance of unrequited love. And yes, this is fiction, but it is based on a real person.

The current production onstage at Swift Creek Mill Theatre, adapted by Emily Frankel and directed by John Moon, is a delightful period comedic romp. Like every production at Swift Creek, it is one of artistic director Tom Width’s favorites. This one earns a special place of honor because, he writes in the program notes, it “confirm[s] the ability of this story’s themes to transcend time and place.” Cyrano, a talented poet, playwright, musician, and soldier, is in love with his beautiful cousin Roxane, but due to his unusually large nose, he lacks the confidence to approach her. Instead, he writes love letters to her on behalf of Christian, a fellow cadet whom he befriends at Roxane’s request.

The production is dedicated to the beloved Andy Boothby, who transitioned suddenly on November 26, and had been cast in the title role, which is now being filled by Matt Bloch. Even with the flamboyantly large prosthetic nose in place, Bloch isn’t ugly; in fact, he is so far from ugly that this casting decision requires good acting in collaboration with a suspension of belief by the audience. Looks aside, Bloch does a commendable job as Cyrano, a role that is both verbally and physically demanding. The final scene, in which he visits Roxane who has retired to a convent after Christian dies on the battlefield, is more touching than I expected. Thankfully, director Moon keeps it simple and brief.

David Janosik plays Christian, whose love for Roxanne is also unrequited, because she doesn’t know that the words that are winning her over are not his own, but those of her cousin Cyrano. I wanted to feel sorry for Christian, but it was difficult to balance this desire with rooting for Cyrano to overcome his insecurities about his looks and find true love.

The lovely Rachel Rose Gilmour is well cast as the fair Roxane. It was helpful to see the scene in which she deftly deflects her lecherous uncle, DeGuiche – a scene performed for the Acts of Faith Preview – in context. In her scene with the tongue-tied Christian she is abrupt and amusing.

Other strong characters include Walter C. A. Riddle as Cyrano’s second in command, Capt. LeBret and Jon Cobb as the play’s antagonist, DeGuiche. Debra wagoner provided some wonderfully comedic moments as Roxane’s Duenna, and her perpetual giggle was simultaneously girlish and naughty.

Frank Foster’s simply elegant design, consisting mostly of a soaring archway with moveable benches and posts, transformed, with the help of Joe Doran’s lights, from a theater to a pastry shop, a court yard, a battlefield, and finally the garden of a convent. Maura Lynch Cravey’s elaborate period costumes, which included lace collars and cuffs, capes, plumed hats, and long hair for the men, and the women’s extended skirts, were as flamboyant as Foster’s design was unassuming.

As for those enduring themes, there is pride versus humility, physical beauty versus inner beauty, integrity and deception, bravery and revenge, chivalry and love, and of course, there is sword-fighting!

 

Julinda D. Lewis is a dancer, teacher, and writer who was born in Brooklyn, NY and now lives in Eastern Henrico County.

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Photo Credits:

Robyn O’Neill

 

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Author: jdldances

Julinda D. Lewis is a dancer, teacher, and writer, born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and transplanted to Richmond, VA. A retiree from both the New York City and Richmond City Public School systems, she is currently an Adjunct Instructor for the Department of Dance and Choreography at Virginia Commonwealth University, and holds the degrees of BS and MA in Dance and Dance Education (New York University), MSEd in Early Childhood Education (Brooklyn College, CUNY), and is currently working on her dissertation in Educational Leadership (Regent University). Julinda is the Richmond Site Leader for TEN/The Eagles Network and the East Region Coordinator for the International Dance Commission and has worked in dance ministry all over the US and abroad (Bahamas, Barbados, Haiti, Jamaica, Kenya, Puerto Rico). She is licensed in dance ministry by the Eagles International Training Institute (2012), and was ordained in dance ministry through Calvary Bible Institute and Seminary, Martinez, GA (2009).

One thought on “CYRANO DE BERGERAC: Everyone Nose”

  1. Pingback: Cyrano de Bergerac

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