Cyrano de Bergerac, a skilled poet and swordsman, is head over heels in love with his beautiful cousin Roxane. Be it composing poems to her beauty or courageous duels in her honour, his existence centres around her happiness. In return, she adores Cyrano and there is clearly a connection between the two. Perfect, roll on the romance, except… he has a ginormous nose and so believes she could ever love him. Yep, really.
Sam Norman and Aaron King’s adaptation of this well-loved seventeenth century French legend is packed full of original songs written in partnership with the composer of Les Mis and Miss Saigon reminds us that Cyrano de Bergerac is responsible for introducing the word “panache” into the English language. From a chase scene between husband and wife to a dramatic ode to a cinnamon bun, each scene is performed with energy and emotion and each song is wonderfully captivating. James Bruce plays a sympathetic, entertaining and ultimately bathetic Cyrano whose relationship with Roxane (Greta Thompson) is genuine, affectionate, complex and difficult, especially once Christian (Liam Sargeant) is on the scene. Many of the more emotionally complex scenes centre around these characters. The Compte de Guiche (Alex Buchanan), by contrast, is perfectly devilish and performs one of the musical’s most entertaining yet equally intense songs, ‘Tedious’, with style and ease. As a cast they work well at maintaining energy and capturing the audience’s attention.
Cyrano de Bergerac is a myth made musical, both heart-warming and heart-breaking, but always entertaining. Rosie Richards (director) has successfully balanced naturalism with a complex and vibrant performance, stating that her aim was to make three-dimensional, empathetic characters to tell this hilarious yet tragic tale. The music is brilliant, the script charmingly astute and whether you like action, music or comedy this looks like a performance not to miss.
Cyrano de Bergerac is playing at the Keble O’Reilly, Oxford, 25-28th 7.30 (+2.30 on Saturday) – tickets available at https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/nk-productions