Cyrano de Bergerac By Edmond Rostand

Dates and Venue 23 October – 23 November 2008 | Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

Director/Translator James Fagan Tait Sets Robert Gardiner Costumes Nancy Bryant Lighting Marsha Sibthorpe Musical Director Joelysa Pankanea Dramaturg Rachel Ditor

Reviewer Ed Farolan

Tait's translation and adaptation of Rostand's classic was well-received by the opening night audience mostly because he added contemporary speech to this piece giving it a freshness and humour that was answered with laughter and giggles from us. Although the play ended with a tragic note with the death of our hero, the play had its light moments. In fact, most of the scenes were done lightly, and the actors were successful in delivering their lines the way Rostand intended.

David Mackay performed Cyrano with ease, as though he were, in the Stanislavskian sense, the character himself. Melissa Poll as Roxanne was costumed and made up to be Roxanne, and she played her part superbly. I was also impressed by the multi-roles played by Patti Allan, Carmen Aguirre, Craig Erickson, Marco Soriano and Andrew Wheeler. Like Shakespeare, Rostand's play has a big cast and requires actors to play multiple roles. What was interesting was seeing these actors play both male and female roles, which elicited giggles particularly when Erickson played Sister Claire.

I was most impressed by the mise-en-scene at the beginning and end of the play. The production opens with actors playing spectators, protesting from different areas of the auditorium as they protest Cyrano's intrusion onstage. I wished, though, I had a swivel seat so I could see all the action all over the auditorium. Likewise, the tragic mood at the end was moving when autumn leaves fall on stage in Cyrano's dying scene. That was good timing presenting the play this time of the year when you have all the maple leaves strewn all over in Vancouver's parks .

Tait's direction brought us to the style and mannerisms of 18th century Paris, the time of Richelieu and the musketeers. Scott Bellis as Comte de Guiche pervaded the mood and manners of the period from his movement and speech. The costumes and sets were carefully prepared, as well as the light and sound effects which were timed flawlessly. Pankanea's compositions and musical direction gave added spice to the production which came close to being an off-Broadway musical.

As a tragi-comedy, Tait delivered this period piece faithfully, combining both tragic and comic elements, adapting it for a modern audience, and in my opinion, Rostand, if he were living, would have been happy to see this particular interpretation of his play.


© 2008 Ed Farolan