Cyrano de Bergerac, a timeless character
Cyrano de Bergerac is one of the best-known characters of French literature and many A-level students have had to tackle the 1,600 verses that form the play written by Edmond Rostand.
Set in 17th century France, the eponymous play has seen many theatrical and movie renditions, and I was excited by this new adaptation by Peter Oswald for artistic director Tom Morris.
Larger than life with a nose to match
Cyrano, a larger than life character with a larger than normal nose, is played by Tristan Sturrock. As formidable with a sword than he is with a quill, his poetry and wit have no equals but are all to avail when it comes to love.
He only has eyes for Roxane, a distant cousin (don’t judge!), to whom he just would not declare his flame to for fears than no woman could ever love a man with such an unsightly nose.
Roxane, played by Sara Powell, is part of the 17th century ‘précieuses’, a group of aristocratic women with devotion for wit and literary prowess.
The young and handsome Christian de Neuvillette has stolen her heart but lacks any sophistication when it comes to language. Cyrano decides to become Christian’s ghostwriter to help him win over Roxane with letters each more moving and beautiful than the other.
There are many moments I enjoyed in the play and for me the highlights are Cyrano defeating a foe while coming up with a monologue all about his nose, and the balcony scene with its echos of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is an absolute delight.
As a big fan of Game of Thrones, I was delighted to see Miltos Yerolemou (Syrio Forel) who also made us laugh so much in A Midsummer Night’s Dream a few years back at Bristol Old Vic.
Rostand’s play is renowned for its length, large cast and intensity and the actors work hard in this whirlwind of emotions.
Tristan Sturrock’s Cyrano is clever, powerful yet also fragile and touching. However, I didn’t always have time to savour the bitterness of his most heartbreaking and eloquent moments as I sometimes struggled with unnecessary comical touches and felt a little overwhelmed at times.
Cyrano is at Bristol Old Vic until 16 November.