The marketing image used by the theatre to promote the play

Cyrano. Bristol Old Vic.

A bit like Cyrano’s nose, Tom Morrison’s production of Edmond Rostand’s play Cyrano de Bergerac was too long and like the nose, the casting wasn’t an exact fit.

A towering Sara Powell as the beautiful Roxanne who stomped about the stage like a Japanese rugby prop forward was ill matched to the petite Christian underplayed by Patrycja Kujawska. Patrycja had boyish good looks but didn’t convince as the testosterone fuelled soldier while Sara Powell has an excellent voice but didn’t have the body language of the play’s love interest.

Why there were so many nuns played by men with beards was another casting mystery as the misfiring drama failed to decide if it was a romantic comedy, a romance or a comedy. It did have several saving graces with the animated and agile Tristan Sturrock as Cyrano and Felix Hayes as De Guiche who commanded the stage making the most of his character.

Milton Yerolemou was good value as Raguneau and there was strong support from Guy Hughes and Giles King but the cast seemed short of females and 17th century costumes. Ti Green’s set was minimal but effective using a dramatic elaborate painted curtain to create the play within a play.

The audience appreciated the rhyming couplets translated by Peter Oswald and in particular any modern references created laughter but there were few scenes where you felt the drama was taking off. Exceptions included the rendezvous at Ragueneau’s bakery, the siege of Arras, the balcony scene in which Cyrano pretends to be Christian and Cyrano’s sword fight in the Hotel Burgundy. I could have done with more of Adrian Sutton’s music and the symbolic creative writing sequences of ensemble choreography using fluttering sheets of paper were enchanting, but overall the play at more than two and a half hours is a test of endurance – although worth it for the final poignant scene.

Harry Mottram

The Bristol Old Vic in association with the Hong Kong Arts Festival production of Cyrano runs to Saturday, November 16, 2019.

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