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Cyrano de Bergerac

a Play
CATEGORY : COMEDY DRAMA
by By Edmond Rostand, Adapted by Davis McCallum

COMPANY : Georgia Shakespeare [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Conant Performing Arts Center [WEBSITE]
ID# 978

SHOWING : June 16, 2004 - August 08, 2004

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION


CAST & CREW LIST
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REVIEWS

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Star Power
by Dedalus
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
4.0
Edmond Rostand’s “Cyrano de Bergerac” is one of those plays that succeeds and fails on the strength of its leading player. Written in 1897 to showcase the talents of a star actor needing a new challenge (who is quoted as saying, “The trouble is, I can do anything”), it is pretty much tied to its described period of 17th-Century France (Steve Martin notwithstanding). It is overly sentimental with a plot trope older than the hills, and it boasts one of the longest “death scenes” in theatrical literature (the joke is, there was once a production so awful, it had a five-hour running time, 4 hours of which was the death scene).

The good news is that in Chris Kayser, the Georgia Shakespeare Festival has found a Cyrano well-fitted. My reactions to Mr. Kayser’s roles have been mostly favorable – I thought he was miscast as Richard II a few years back, and, once in a while, he falls back on tried-and-true mannerisms and smirkiness to “sleep-walk” through a role (this year’s “Coriolanus” on an off day) -- but he is always interesting, always competent, and always compelling.

And, with Cyrano, he takes command of the stage and never lets go. His initial sword-play (and word-play) predictably sets the stage for an evening full of swashbuckling fireworks. The surprise is how effective his emotional and vulnerable scenes are with his beloved Roxane (a very good Park Krausen – not a classical beauty, but attractive enough, and, more critically, interesting enough to inspire all these men to fawn over her). He achieved the almost impossible feat of making his “heart-hurt” hidden from the other characters, but apparent to us, even in the back row.

Staged traditionally, this production nevertheless finds interesting ways of using a unit set to stage its many scenes (including a flawless battle scene and a moving and touching autumnal finale). The costuming was also true to period and character – I especially like the silly “uniform” Roxane wears to the front – a simple visual that was true to her character and underscored the folly of her “mission of mercy.”

I was never a big fan of this particularly play (I also found the recent French film version with Gerard Depardieu hard-going). But after seeing Mr. Kayser’s rambunctious and moving romp, I may be forced to reassess its virtues.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)
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