Dominic Hill ’s interpretation of Cyrano de Bergerac is decadent, passionate and faultless. Not only a feast for the eyes but also the soul, Edwin Morgan’s Scots reimagining of Edmond Rostand ’s world-renowned story is breath-taking in its energy, stomach-aching in its hilarity and heart-wrenching in its suffering. Such a production is an absolute privilege to watch.
The play revolves around the charismatic cadet Cyrano, a man with a wealth of talent hidden behind a rather unsightly nose. Believing he is unlovable, Cyrano is forced to woo his beautiful cousin Roxane through the handsome airhead Cristian, composing countless love letters that win Roxane’s heart but for the wrong man. Farce gives way to tragedy, plunging Roxane into endless grief and preventing Cyrano from confessing his love, even on his deathbed.
The epitome of this production’s decadence lies in costume; world-renowned British designer Pam Hogg takes the myriad of inspirations for the production and makes them her playground. The result is a delicious jumble of clashing styles, from the overindulgence of French Rococo to the earthy warmth of Scottish tartan. The undeniable cherry atop Hogg’s costume cake, however, is Roxane’s dresses. Spellbinding movement, masses of tulle and Elizabethan-inspired neck collars all combine to ensure that nobody could take their eyes off of her. She alone is a spectacle.
The atmosphere onstage is electric throughout, commanded by the incredible Brian Ferguson as Cyrano and perpetuated by the whole cast, who work symbiotically to create a singular force of theatrical extravagance. Their intense energy spills over to produce an immersive experience, punctuated by running into the audience and Lizzie Powell ’s thoughtful lighting design, which at times light up the audience and effectively plunge us into the action. Edwin Morgan’s lilting and crafty Scots translation pays homage to the complexity and richness of Rostand’s original writing. The iambic pentameter and frequent rhyming couplets are overlaid with rich Caledonian accents that add warmth, musicality and mourn the story. This is a script that the actors could really revel in, most notably Ferguson’s Cyrano, Keith Fleming as de Guiche, and Roxane, brilliantly portrayed by Jessica Hardwick.
Though the strong accents of the actors could have made the story difficult to follow, the physicality of Hill’s production ensured that the story was never compromised. Movement director Kally Lloyd-Jones and fight director Renny Krupinski must be credited for the drama and wonder of the performance, from the exhilarating first duel to the Haka-style drill of the Gascon Cadets.
Hill’s Cyrano de Bergerac is indisputably a passionate, hilarious romp filled with sharp wit, lovable characters and perfect comedic timing. Yet, the triumph of this production is the heart-breaking poignancy of the ending. The stage stripped bare, the actors all in black, there were no distractions from the raw emotion of Ferguson and Hardwick ’s performance. It is rare to bring an audience to tears with both laughter and compassion yet this production will deliver this to anyone with a heart.
Cyrano de Bergerac
12th October – 3rd November
Image: Mihaela Bodlovic