Monday, April 11, 2016

"Cyrano" ☼ ☼ ☼ baub

(Introductory Note: a closer inspection of the above photo illustrates why 17th Century background singers did not stand behind the lead singer.)

Cyrano de Bergerac lived a short life in the 17th Century, a dramatist known for his swordplay as well as his wordplay. In the 1890s Edmond Rostand's"Cyrano" immortalized Monsieur de Bergerac's oversized nose, and the rest is history. The classic story of impossible love and failed opportunity has been performed countless times and in many languages since then. This is even the second presentation by Theatreworks, this time a newer adaptation by Michael Hollinger and Aaron Posner.

There are two memorable scenes in Act One. In the first, Cyrano (J. Anthony Crane) becomes the bard, composing and singing an ode in iambic pentameter while simultaneously dueling with a Duke. In the second, Cyrano dispatches a hundred foes, one after the other, all dumb enough to stand in a line and attack him one-on-one. It appears life was cheap in the seventeenth century.

In Act Two we get the memorable balcony scene, where Cyrano declares his love for the fair Roxanne (Sharon Rietkerk), but does it through the mouth of Christian (Chad Deverman), whose nose is the normal size. This is a lovely set piece, with all three actors playing off each other effectively.

It is all good fun, but we must mention that Act Two feels like Acts Two and Three. They desperately need to shorten it or remove the lengthy epilogue, or perhaps it is just a further story that feels like an epilogue. An otherwise witty production grinds to a halt as we duel the author to get to the finish.

 RATINGS: ☼ ☼ ☼ baub

The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "Cyrano" Three Stars with a bauble of despair, but the bauble would be removed if they simply tighten up Act Two and pare it down to our admittedly limited Twentieth Century attention spans.

Mountain View Center for Performing Arts
500 Castro Street, Mountain View
Through May 1

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