Have you ever wanted to stick your nose into a good romantic comedy and come out of it satisfied, and knowing that you went in with high expectations and came out with those expectations met? Well look no further.
Cyrano, performed by Northern Broadsides, is re-written and reimagined by Deborah McAndrew from the original French works of Gogol Erdman and Dario Fo.
The story is set in France, 1640, in the middle of the long 30-year war between France and Spain. We meet our hero, a fantastic swordsman, an incredible poet, and a hopeless romantic, Cyrano de Bergerac, played by the brilliant Christian Edwards.
Cyrano has quite the name for himself as being one of the best swordsmen in France, able to take down 100 men in one night when it took his fancy. People fear and love the name, and as a soldier in the cadets he has an array of talents to brag about. Oh, and a huge nose. Really huge. And unfortunately it is this massive snozz that is preventing him from spilling his heart to the woman he loves.
The premise of the story is that Cyrano’s cousin, the beautiful and witty Roxanne played by Sharon Singh, falls in love with the face of a new boy in town, Christian. While Christian, played by Adam Barlow, has the looks of the statue Adonis (and the brain to match), he finds love just as hard to come by as Cyrano does. Well, why not join forces? Cyrano’s words, his heart and his vulnerability, paired with Christian’s good looks, makes one ‘perfect’ man. After all, the love of a woman as gorgeous as Roxanne must be earned by that of two men rather than one.
So they team up in an epic struggle to make Christian seem more appealing in the brain department, and to get him married to Cyrano’s cousin. After all, Cyrano sees this as making the one girl he truly loves find happiness, and that is all he wants. His own happiness be damned. It also helps her avoid unwanted suitors, so it’s a win win for everyone involved. Except Cyrano. Poor Cyrano.
We meet some other fantastic characters alongside Cyrano. One of my favourites was Ligniere, played by Michael Hugo, a drunken poet who only seems to get himself into trouble by writing and singing awful songs about important people. He made the character his own, with a cheeky smile and a witty remark; Ligniere was one of the best-performed characters in the show. When Ligniere takes out his flute and plays a tune, you just know you’re in for a good night.
In addition, the entire cast have to be commended on their versatile talents when performing. Any number of them could play multiple characters, sing, dance and even play instruments, and all within seconds of each other. It was incredible to watch them switch so easily, especially with Francesca Mills who played four different characters each with their own personalities and stories.
Cyrano is a delight to watch. It’s a performance sure to have your chest hurting from laughter, and equal measures of heartbreak. You become attached to the characters, you relate to them, and you have a damn good time doing it too. From fantastic voices in the pub to incredible ballads in gardens, Cyrano’s actors brought a new kind of passion to the theatre.
Cyrano is insecure, something a lot of us can relate too, and he thinks he is undeserving of love because of his nose. After all, what woman would love a nose so huge? The story is ironic in a way, after all the talk of good looks that Christian has, it’s all meaningless when Roxanne falls in love with Cyrano’s words more so than the face she thinks wrote them.
This is a swashbuckling story of unrequited love, that in the end is reciprocated but too late. This story will surely bring a tear to the eye, whether it’s of laughter or of sadness is up to you. Enjoy the nose puns, enjoy the sword fighting, and most of all enjoy the story behind a man with no hope of finding love, and the woman who loved his soul.
Images by Nobby Clark