QUAY THEATRE, THE LOWRY
NORTHERN BROADSIDES/ NEW VIC THEATRE
Adaptation of Edmund Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac by Deborah McAndrew
Saturday afternoon in a box right by the stage. Great view of audience and cast. It is a piece of period French drama. It is pantomime but with an audience of old people and a 12 week old baby. It is a musical. It has the ghost of Geraldine McEwan on a balcony in a crinoline. Please let me face the Spanish forces with a wooden sword and let the equally wooden young Christian stay to listen to Roxanne instead of me.
In this production Cyrano is much younger than how he is usually portrayed. This works on some levels and Christian Edwards portrays him with energy and conviction. Amongst the poets and soldiers he convinces, however the casting of Roxanne makes it harder for him to seem as passionate in the love scenes. Northern Broadsides have built a sound reputation casting using regional accents and staging in unusual locations. It can be a winning combination but not in this instance. The set is very pedestrian and uninspiring and the Northern accents are fine though become uneasily frenchified when discussing patisserie. The big problem is the strident cut glass Edinburgh voice of Roxanne. Closed eyes and Cyrano and Christian are wooing Miss Jean Brodie in her prime. It creates a dissonance and ruptures belief in Roxanne (Sharon Singh) as a credible love interest for the clever and complex Cyrano.
The addition of lots of singing and dancing and men in women’s clothes with tiers of pastries under their skirts and baps hidden in their bras distract from the original play and create the farce of pantomime instead. There is even an pickpocket/nun of small stature to add to this bewildering spectacle.
The cast bring lots of energy and enthusiasm to this production. However the staging and direction makes it feel more am/dram than this cast deserve.
The closing scene of the death of Cyrano is a blessed release for all concerned bar the wretched Roxanne who will no longer have the local gossip told to her in an engaging way. Where in Deborah McAndrews script is the quick wit of Roxanne that so beguiled Cyrano? Four autumn leaves fall from the sky to herald the passing of poor lovelorn Cyrano – a props misfunction or no budget left for leaves after buying in so much pastry?
It is ironic that Cyrano should speak so eloquently for Northern Broadsides ethos
Shall I hide my roots, and change my voice. Modulate my vowels to fit in?
Sadly in the case of a Scottish Roxanne it would have been welcome.