Cyrano de Bergerac, Presented by ACT1 at The Darkhorse Theater
Sometimes, when sitting in an inordinately empty auditorium, theatergoers can feel themselves to be a vanishing breed, and some evenings, when the performance of choice has not cleared the bar, we may fear that quality productions are sharing that ignominious fate. The only antidote to such insidiously creeping dejection is a certifiably top-notch show. ACT1’s mounting of Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac, beginning a three-week run at the Darkhorse, is just such a rare elixir, guaranteed to revive the most desiccated spirit.
Beginning in the feeble emanations of simulated candelabra, Director Elizabeth Hayes’ simple but opulent vision of this seasoned perennial effortlessly springs from the romantic shadows of our collective unconscious with so much verve and specificity so as to hold us in its velvet grip for an evanescent two hours before intermission. Whether one chooses to classify Rostand’s masterwork as he did, a “heroic comedy,” or a tragic romance with melodramatic features, its longevity as well as the grandiloquence of the title character automatically command a certain respect. This production very arguably expands that deference into the realm of reverence. The century-old strapping-good story of love by proxy is allowed to take and hold center stage, with Daniel Sadler’s dark-curtained setting and Steven Steele’s attentively subdued lighting providing a neutral ground for a resplendently period-costumed cast of twenty-five.
Rarely is a troupe of this size and depth of talent assembled for performance at any level of production, but particularly in an unremunerated community effort like ACT1. Here is amateur theatre in the noblest sense of the term; this love story is being performed for love of the experience. Lead players through stalwart supporters exhibit the solid consistency of tone and energy inherent in the best ensemble work. Ryan Williams’ Cyrano is broad-shouldered and robust, the perfect balance of rough-hewn swash and sharpened wit. His vocal strength is sufficient to command attention even from off-stage, yet his anguished asides are nuanced and compellingly poignant. Williams manages to balance the hero’s larger-than-life personality with a realistic sensitivity of emotion, minimizing our need for willful suspensions. Kellye Mitchell, a proven comedienne on the local scene, here rises to the level of a mature leading lady of unflawed elegance and power. We never doubt Roxane’s confident ability to twist a pompous count or Spanish sentry to her will -- coquettery as an art form. Matthew Scott Baxter as Christian is delightfully coltish and hesitant as a young novice soldier and lover. Alan Lee, as the deliciously craven and lubricious Comte de Guiche, proffers precise diction and demeanor in antagonizing virtually everyone. Jack E. Chambers, as Cyrano’s stalwart friend LeBret, gives sharp-edged depth to a slimly-written character. Full-bodied supporting turns are also provided by Bob Roberts as boulanger and aspiring poet Ragueneau, Diana Holland as Roxane’s chaperone Duenna, and L.T. Kirk, Rodrick Topp and Eric Ventress as a trio of fey rakes.
The argument for a tragic Cyrano posits this otherwise courageous man’s fear of possible ridicule for revealing his love as his tragic flaw. That same reluctance, extended into a 15-year suppression of the truth, also stands as the chief evidence of his idealized romantic strength of character. This psychological incongruity represents a significant aspect of the play’s charm and staying power. We wish so much to believe in this unbelievably expansive character because his dichotomous soul so closely resembles our own conflicting values. From either direction, this grand persona demands praise. Ms. Hayes and her associates have honored that fact so keenly that praise must be heaped upon their exceptional effort. This is a production you miss to your detriment.
-- Bob Fish
All Reviews »
The play is far more hilarious than the film, and the juxtaposition -- in fact, the simultaneity -- of hilarity and profound grief is the crux of this brilliant contemporary script. Out Front's production is some of the best work this consistently challenging year-old storefront operation has done. A perceptive and dedicated cast give sharply believable performances under George W. Manus, Jr.'s well-modulated direction. Here's a very satisfying evening of theatre well worth a trip to the 'Boro.
The SouthComm Set
The City Paper |
LEO Weekly |
Medical News Papers
All contents © 1995-2013
City Press LLC, 210 12th Ave. S., Ste. 100, Nashville, TN 37203. (615) 244-7989.
All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of City Press LLC,
except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via email to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.
Powered by Foundation