Cyrano De Bergerac

Edmund Rosland, based on an Anthony Burgess translation, Additional poetry by Twm Morris

Clwyd Theatr Cymru

Clwyd Theatr Cymru

From 14 April 2016 to 07 May 2016

Review by Dave Jennings

This production of Edmund Rosland’s classic, based on the Anthony Burgess translation but delivered with a Welsh twist, is further evidence that the stewardship of new Artistic Director Tamara Harvey will continue to deliver high quality theatre. Not only do the characters talk with various Welsh dialects, but the script also benefits from some new Welsh language poetry by Twm Morys. Director Phillip Breen has pulled a master-stroke by ensuring that the period costumes of the seventeenth Century French Court sit perfectly in the Welsh context.

The performance lasts around three hours but the all-Welsh cast ensure that it does not drags at any stage. On stage for most of the duration, and with industrial amounts of dialogue to deliver, Steffan Rhodri’s performance in the title role was perhaps best summed up by a member of the audience at the end as a “tour de force”. From the moment he emerges from the rear of the auditorium, sporting a nose that once seen will not be forgotten, to the final breath of his death scene, Rhodri has the audience transfixed as he delivers a performance of energy, wit and, to coin a phrase the play introduced to the English language, panache. A standing ovation on First Night is a fitting testament to the power, not only of his performance but also that of the supporting cast.    

Sara Lloyd-Gregory is equally impressive in her portrayal of Roxanne, who seems to be a member of the French Aristocracy with thoroughly modern attitudes. Her arrival shortly before the battle starts is a captivating moment that demonstrates so much about the strength of this production with good use made of the full stage, outstanding costume and design and humour and sadness in equal balance. Her incongruent greeting of “Bore Da” only serves to underline the success of transposing a Welsh aspect to Seventeenth Century France. Also a favourite with the audience was Rhys Parry Jones as Ragueneau whose musical praise of almond pie is almost a showstopper in itself.

The theme of the play is of the heroic soldier Cyrano De Bergerac, whose fighting ability is rivalled by his gift for words, and his complex about his particularly large nose. Believing that Roxanne could never love him, he sets about using his skill with words to help Baron Christian de Neuvillette, played by the excellent Marc Rhys, win her hand. This involves much intrigue and a hilarious balcony scene which is one of the highlights of the evening.

This production of Cyrano De Bergerac is ambitious in scope, but it delivers a vibrant combination of humour, action and sorrow with that essential touch of panache.