Fringe Box



Stage Dragon: Cyrano de Bergerac by The Guildburys

Published on: 21 Jul, 2023
Updated on: 20 Jul, 2023

By Tricia Marcotti

Originally written by the French poet and dramatist, Edmond Rostand, in 1897, Cyrano de Bergerac has been adapted by Glyn Maxwell to be the latest production in the Guildburys Theatre Company’s 60th anniversary year.

Presented as picnic theatre at Merrist Wood College in Worplesdon, the theatre-goer has the opportunity to partake of their own food and drink, then be entertained by the cast.

Merrist Wood College offers a woodland glade which provides a varied setting for each of the five acts. The scenery is designed to allow each act to have its own discrete setting within the glade, and some of the sets are able to perform double duty by cleverly switching their position and angle from which the audience views them.

The layout is such that not only do the players perform in front of the audience, they also at times appear behind and beside it. So the audience feels fully involved in the action.

One cannot talk about Cyrano without discussing “the nose”. It is a veritable beauty of a nose, worthy of a place of honour among noses! And Cyrano (Paul Baverstock) wears it well. Paul plays his character to the hilt (yes, swords are involved!), running the whole gamut of emotions throughout the play.

Cyrano and Roxanne. All pictures by Jonathan Constant.

And Roxanne (Amie Felton) provides us with a coquette, a loving cousin, and a loving then grieving wife. Her performance shows that she understands what the character of Roxanne entails.

Christian de Neuvillette was Roxanne’s love interest, and Gabi King shows us how he could be both a swashbuckling swordsman and a tongue-tied lover, needing Cyrano’s expertise in wooing “his Roxanne”.

Christian, Cyrano, and Roxanne.

A number of the cast play multiple parts. The costumes have been designed to allow changes “on the fly”, so to speak. That is to say, some of the players are required to be both soldiers and nuns, and their costume changes are effected while they speak.

I especially liked Cyrano’s swordfight with 100 soldiers. The way the director (Steffen Zschaler) set that up is genius.

While the play has its sad scenes, it also has an enormous amount of humour. The play is billed as a tragedy – and certainly, there were some tears – there were nevertheless a lot of laughs.

Who could not laugh at the baker Ragueneau getting upset when finding his cakes have been wrapped up by his wife Lise in the latest poets’ writings.

Cyrano fighting 100 swordsmen.

As the play is based in reality, the battle for Arras being one case in point, the act covering that is full of pathos leavened with a little humour to ensure the audience does not get dragged down.

Battle of Arras.

One or two of the players could have projected their voices a little louder for the audience, but this may have been first night jitters.

All in all, I, my companions and the rest of the audience enjoyed watching the cast immensely.

Cyrano de Bergerac runs until Saturday, July 22.

Tickets are available by clicking here.

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