Tuesday, 29 September 1998
Cyrano de Bergerac - as told by three idiots, Sept 29, 1998
Another review from last century for your delectation. This one's a mad, clown version of Cyrano. KH
Adapted from Edmund Rostand
La Mama at the Courthouse Theatre until October 17, 1998
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
If you do not know the original Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmund Rostand, you might know Steve Martin's film, Roxanne, based on Cyrano. A similar comic-poignant balancing act informs the style of Cyrano de Bergerac - as told by three idiots.
The idiots are three actors: David Adamson, Glynis Angell and Bruce Naylor who are directed by Alex Pinder. The three, according to the program notes, "share, perform and fight for all the roles" which allows the actors' own personae to be part of the performance.
As themselves, they bicker over their individual interpretations of the poet-fighter and vie for the privilege of playing the heroic, poetic, love-soaked Cyrano or, more to the point, who gets to sport his enormous, ugly honker.
Part of the play is classic clown with slapstick fight scenes, goofy caricatures and absurd references. These are interspersed with slabs of Rostand's fine text which is essentially poetic, romantic and, finally, tragic.
Cyrano has a reputation as a rabble-rouser, fearless soldier and fine poet. He suffers unrequited love of his pretty cousin, Roxanne. He finds himself in the invidious position of writing ardent love letters to her which are signed by Christian, a handsome young soldier beloved by Roxanne.
The dramatic, text-based scenes take precedence in the latter half of the 90 minute show and are poignant but less successful than the earlier idiocy. The clownery is often hilarious, although it could be pushed further to maintain its edge. When the energy drops and the voices and actions are too restrained, the show falters.
The director's balancing of the styles is awkward. They need to go further towards both the tragic and the comic. There are also some clumsy scene changes which cannot be covered by the trio singing prettily.
The ensemble is strong after developing this piece over a long workshop period. All three are charming and engaging and all have hilarious character cameos.
Naylor's loud brash servant woman is a hoot and Adamson as the evil, grimacing Comte de Guiche is suitably slimy while Angell, in several small roles, demonstrates her excellent physical clown skills; the more extreme their interpretation, the more effective the result.
This piece could benefit from tighter direction, further editing of the text and some more wildly over-the-top clowning. My gauge of their success became the giggles from the six-year-old in the front row. He loved it.
By Kate Herbert September 1998