Thursday, November 1, 2007
Cyrano de Bergerac
Oh, I LOVE this play! I first saw “Cyrano” in 1980 at Baltimore’s CenterStage with F. Murray Abraham. I was so charmed I went back twice. I then saw a production in 1983 or 84 at Syracuse Stage. I don’t know who the Cyrano was then, but he was moving enough for me love the play all over again, although I didn’t care for the rather modern sets; CenterStage’s (by Hugh Landwehr) had been traditional and rich in detail -- just gorgeous.
In the mid-80s I saw the play again, this time at the Kennedy Center with Derek Jacobi, and again the modish set. But still I was entranced by this story of missed love.
So with all these great memories, I went yesterday to see Kevin Kline’s portrayal of the romantic poet and swordsman with the huge nose and white plumed hat, hoping I wouldn’t be disappointed. I wasn’t. I didn’t think I was going to be, but after Kline’s rather c’est la vie approach to Lear last season, I wasn’t sure. But here he plays Cyrano just the way I fell in love with him, the romantic soul grieving for Roxanne and the love he assumes he can never have. He is Cyrano in all his facets -- his bravery, arrogance, insecurity and his passionate, poetic speaking.
All of the other actors are fine, including Jennifer Garner making her Broadway debut. Tom Pye’s set is functional but uninteresting; the flights of stairs that scale the back wall of the stage are often distracting. I kept thinking that if the actors hadn’t gotten to the gym that day it would be all right -- they were getting quite a workout running up and down throughout the show. (I never read the play so I don’t know if stairs factor into it, but the Syracuse Stage and Kennedy Center sets also used lots of steps. I don’t remember that at CenterStage.)
But the set actually doesn’t matter much and in some ways the other actors need only be serviceable. It’s Cyrano and his beautiful language that are so mesmerizing, or they should be and are with the right actor, which Kevin Kline is. I wish I could go back to this production two more times. Or even more. I floated home on air and am still high on the experience. I really only need one word to sum up my feelings -- GO!