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Cyrano de Bergerac at The Royal Exchange

The Royal Exchange has chosen the ‘heroic comedy’ Cyrano de Bergerac as its Christmas production, a beautiful play that will leave you with a skip in your step and a smile on your face… or your money back.

Published on December 7th 2006.


Cyrano de Bergerac at The Royal Exchange

Directed by Greg Hersov

Sometimes you leave a theatre after a play and find that the world has taken on a sort of golden glow - and despite walking out into the dark, rainy streets of Manchester it takes all of your strength of mind not to skip home, spinning around a few lamp posts on the way.

That’s what happened to me after leaving the Royal Exchange, where I had the pleasure of seeing Edmond Rostand’s flambuoyant ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’.

The classic play about the novelist and philosopher with the oversized nez, Cyrano de Bergerac, is brilliantly adapted and translated by Anthony Burgess and sensitively directed by Greg Hersov to retain all of its beautiful lyricism and dramatic effect.

The Royal Exchange has done full credit to the theatricality of the play, with lavish costumes and staging creating a beautiful visual spectacle. With no set to speak of, scenes are evoked through lighting, floor coverings and items drifting down from the ceiling – white flowers in the wooing scenes and autumn leaves in the final scene.

Ben Keaton makes an enigmatic Cyrano, whose huge nose becomes almost unnoticeable beneath the enormous shadow of poetic language and charming acting, while Oliver Chris is endearing as the simple yet appealing Christian, who allows Cyrano to woo the beautiful Roxanne (Jessica Oyelowo) on his behalf.

A large supporting cast portray the play’s 28 characters through successful doubling up, each performance being a credit to the production. With plenty of swashbuckling action and big scale battle scenes, this five act play is an epic in every sense save its choice of hero, who is raised to heroic proportions by the sheer beauty of this piece.

Audience interaction in the early scenes helps to create a real rapport with the play, and emotional involvement with the characters’ fates becomes inevitable, especially towards the later stages of the play when Rostand gives even the bard himself a run for his money in the death scene stakes.

This is a beautiful, touching and engaging performance of a play which is regarded by many as a masterpiece. You’ll want to see it again and again. And again.

Jayne Robinson

Cyrano de Bergerac
The Royal Exchange
Until January 13th 2007

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