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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ proves clever and entertaining

Published: March 7, 2014
Section: Arts, Etc., Featured

This Thursday, March 6 Hold Thy Peace opened their show “Cyrano de Bergerac” in the SCC Theater. Based on Edmond Rostand’s 1897 original play and newly adapted by director Tziporah Thompson ’14, the comedy is an “[adaptation of the play] from 1640s France to modern day America whilst still managing to emphasize the fundamental values of the original play,” according to Thompson. The show stars David Benger ’14, Allison Kaminsky ’17, Ryan Mouton ’17, Danny Steinberg ’15 and David Ferrazzoli ’14, as Cyrano, Roxanne, Christian, Le Bret and de Guiche respectively.

The show was clever and humorous. Kudos to Thompson for her creativity. What was interesting is that the show is introduced as a show within a show; audience members were brought backstage to see how the storyline develops. There is a mini stage set up on the actual stage; cast members sit in the audience as if watching a dress rehearsal, and Deesha Patel ’16 conducted the rehearsal as a stage manager.

Cyrano, who has become his stage character, emerges from his seat and lets his sassy, intimidating, witty and nose-centric personality be known to the real audience. Secretly in love with his childhood playmate and current fellow actor Roxanne, Cyrano cannot let his feelings be known as he has a grotesque nose, one that “launched a thousand ships.” Despite his physical ugliness, he is the charismatic star of the theater and even has his own fan club, which consists of Marcy (Monica Ferrer ’14) and Jeanette (Barbara Spidle ’16.) Unfortunately for him, his dearly beloved Roxanne falls in love upon first looking at new member Christian, who is handsome yet dull-witted and has reciprocated her attraction. Cyrano pairs up with Christian to help Christian woo Roxanne. Because Christian is not the brightest guy on the block, Cyrano helps him out by dictating love poems, which Christian texts to Roxanne, who believes that the new stage eye candy is a passionate poet.

One of the funnier parts of the show is when Christian attempts to chat up Roxanne in person. The most romantic thing Christian is able to utter is “I like you,” to which Roxanne frowns. Valiantly and desperately, he tries again with “I really like you … I love you?” Roxanne storms angrily away. Although there are some parts when Cyrano speaks poetically, the majority of the show will make you laugh.

The costuming of the show consists of a combination of clothes from both 1640 and 2014. Like the stage set, it was nothing too spectacular, but it massively helped differentiate when the show was set backstage and when it was “on stage.”

As “Cyrano de Bergerac” continues, it is evident that the play pokes fun at the idea of true love at first sight. Thompson has done a fine job of adding comedic lines to the script, which will serve to make the play more easily accessible to audience members. To further aid the accessibility of the production, she also adds modern-day characters, like Roxanne’s sarcastic, not-so-best friend Dianna (Subhi Sapkota ’16) and Carbon (Josh Kelly ’14.)

I thought that, for the most part, each actor embodied his or her character well. Benger in particular did a superb job of becoming Cyrano. It would not be surprising if he spoke in Cyrano’s epigrammatic style in reality. There was not one awkward actor, which made the narrative much more believable.

Students should watch the show to see how the love triangle between Cyrano, Christian and Roxanne plays out. To Thompson’s credit, she adds a terrific and much-appreciated plot twist at the end. Although “Cyrano de Bergerac” is no “Cabaret,” it is still extremely enjoyable and something you should spend one of your weekend nights attending. I applaud Thompson for her adaptation of a play that I had always thought was less than exciting.