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Cyrano de Bergerac

City Theatre's staging of the Rostand classic makes good use of its space and is helmed by a very engaging star

Reviewed by Adam Roberts, Fri., Aug. 1, 2014

A nose for panache: Andrew Bosworth (l) as Cyrano
A nose for panache: Andrew Bosworth (l) as Cyrano
Photo courtesy of City Theatre Company

Cyrano de Bergerac

City Theatre, 3823-D Airport, 512/524-2870

www.citytheatreaustin.org

Through Aug. 10

Running Time: 3 hr., 15 min.

Marketing copy for City Theatre's production of Cyrano de Bergerac hails the play as "one of the finest ... ever written!" – a highly subjective statement, of course, but one I can somewhat get behind. After all, Cyrano has something for everyone: lots of action and adventure, loads of romance, and some tear-jerking scenes in addition to plenty of comedic ones. The story has been adapted countless times (City employs the popular Anthony Burgess translation of Edmund Rostand's original), perhaps thanks to its universal and timeless narrative.

In addition to being a fine play, Cyrano is a lengthy one. Packing in all the swashbuckling, lengthy monologues, battles, puns, and alternating frivolity/heartstring-tugging, City's rendition runs well over three hours, including two intermissions. Although the pacing of the opening night performance wasn't plodding by any means, the proceedings could stand to move more briskly – though I imagine the tempo is likely to tighten as the run continues. The play isn't only long by today's standards, but also large. City's production features 19 actors on its close-quartered stage, and kudos to director Jeff Hinkle for his use of the space, providing interesting and effective stage pictures even when the full cast is present. With so much stage combat (excitingly choreographed by Wesley Riddle), ensuring that every actor is seen in a dynamic way can become a bit of a chess game, and Hinkle proves an impressive player here.

As is the case with many shows named for their lead roles, the success of any staging of Cyrano rests on the shoulders of its title character. Andrew Bosworth delivers a stellar turn as the poet-by-proxy, infusing the show with an energy and a panache (a term which the play is said to have introduced to the English language) on which the rest of the production rides. Bosworth's Cyrano is larger than life when such a presence is called for and intensely vulnerable in his most intimate moments. As often occurs when a character is drawn and interpreted in such a big way, the other cast members frequently struggle to match Bosworth's stamina and presence, resulting in a sense of "backgroundedness" that they inhabit for much of the evening.

Again, the nice thing about Cyrano is that no matter what you're craving in theatrical fare, it's offered up in the play at some point. City Theatre's version may be more modest than many in terms of production values, but as a star vehicle helmed by a very engaging star, the show is able to retain wind in its sails much of the time.

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