Off Broadway (and sometimes Broadway) Reviews and Information.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Cryano Explodes with Passion at BAM


Cyrano de Bergerac is playing at BAM and it is beautifully intense and poetic. As Cryano, James McAvoy burns with a heat that enflames the neutral palette on stage. Cyrano de Bergerac is acted in "spoken word prose". That is my best description of it. Cyrano has a cadence, rhythm, and language all its own. Translated from the French, with also had a unique cadence in 1890s, the dialog reinforces Cryano’s love of language, while also distancing him from other characters in the play. Like Shakespeare, the dive into a new speech pattern takes a bit of adjustment but is then it is captivating. 

As Cyrano, James McAvoy is mesmerizing and impossible to ignore. He strides the stage demanding attention and receiving it. He dominates whether sitting, standing, or fighting. 

James McAvoy, intimidating and commanding as Cryano

Nearly all of us know the outlines of the story, Cyrano de Bergerac is in love with the fair Roxanne, but she is infatuated with another, Christian. Roxanne is blind to Cryano’s affections because they have been friends from youth. Addtionally, Cryano describes that no one could love him, nor even see him fully due to his expansive nose. His nose is a sight to behold as described and joked about. In this play Cryano’s nose, his giant protuberance, his defining feature is described, but not depicted on McAvoy’s face.

Roxanne, Cryano’s cousin comes to him with tales of love. Cryano allows himself to believe the target might be himself. He is silently crushed when Roxanne revels that target is not Cryano but is Christian, a youthful handsome man. Not only is Roxanne infatuated with Christian, but she implores Cryano to take care of him in the military they both are part of. 

Roxanne (played wonderfully by Evelyn Miller) is the light of warmth and charm. It is easy to understand Cryano’s love. Like Cryano she is alsot in love with language and words. She entreats Cryano to have Christine write her letters of love. But Christine is at sea using words to describe anything. And so Cryano writes Christine’s letters to make Roxanne happy.

Roxane (Evelyn Miller) and Cyrano

The famous scene where Cryano speaks for Christine to Roxanne is carried out with precision and emotion. The scene plays out in a series of musical chairs allowing separate conversations to happen on the same stage. Eben Figueiredo is Christian - the handsome but witless suitor of Roxanne. His love perhaps not less full than Cryano’s, but he is useless in documenting it in a way Roxanne can appreciate.

But rich and powerful De Guiche (a slimy Ton Edden) desires Roxanne as well. Seeing Christine’s love for Roxanne as a block to his own salacious intentions, he sends Christine (and Cryano) off to war. Where Cryano promises to Roxanne that he will get Christine to write every day. Letters that he writes, and that further inflame her love.

War means tragedy. And tragedy in this case means that Christine falls in battle. Christine’s early death is amplified by his (actually Cryano’s) letters and dooms Roxanne to live alone with his memory. Tragedy also means that Cryano does not reveal his actions or intents until it is too late.
Cryano and Christine (Eben Figueiredo)

This new version is by Martin Crimp and directed by Jamie Lloyd. I have never seen the original or a recent version, but I was captivated by this Cryano de Bergerac. I’m afraid I have be spoiled and will never see a different version that is this spellbinding.

Cryano de Bergerac | Playwright: Edmond Rostand, with new version by Martin Camp | Director: Jamie Lloyd | Cast:
James McAvoy, Evelyn Miller, Eben Figueiredo, Michele Austin, Veneeka Dadhria, Adam Best
and Nari Blair-Mangat

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