A fast-paced ‘Cyrano’ at Gloucester stage

18Jul18

By MARK SARDELLA

Easily, the strength of Gloucester Stage Company’s current production, Cyrano, is in the performances of the professional cast. The five-member cast plays a multitude of roles in this adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s 1897 classic Cyrano de Bergerac by Jason O’Connell and Brenda Withers.

Jeremiah Kissel is an energetic and exuberant Cyrano, a master when it comes to both words and the sword, whose love for the beautiful Roxane (Andrea Goldman) is sadly unrequited. He is convinced that it is due to his rather unattractive nose (depicted here with a bandage).

Roxane is in love with Christian (James Ricardo Milord), a handsome young soldier who is rather lacking in the poetry department.

When Roxane confesses to Cyrano her love for Christian, she asks him to intervene on her behalf. Unable to say no to Roxane, a heartbroken Cyrano helps Christian by feeding him the words to woo her. Even after the jealous nobleman Count DeGuiche (Paul Melendy) sends Christian and Cyrano off to battle, Cyrano continues to pen letters to Roxane on Christian’s behalf.

The question is, is Roxane in love with Christian’s looks or Cyrano’s words?

While each character has a primary role, they also double as other, minor characters. This can at times be bewildering for the audience – for example when Goldman shows up in battle scenes as a soldier.

Another source of confusion is women playing male roles and vice versa. Erin Nicole Washington plays Cyrano’s male aide, Le Bret, among other male and female roles, and at times it’s distracting trying to keep up. And Milord in the role of a nun in the second act is a stretch. I realize that the audience is being asked to use its imagination, but at times my imagination could have used a little more help.

Another distraction is the mixture of period and contemporary language. It is billed as a “contemporized” version of the play, but it might have benefited from going all the way in that respect, rather than just inserting the occasional contemporary phrase.

Still, there’s a lot to like about the production, including dialog like this. “I love contempt. It’s the only passion that cannot be thwarted by rejection.”

And it’s a treat to watch Melendy portray DeGuiche with effete, foppish delight.

For my money, Cyrano’s flaws lie more with the script than the production. A worthwhile effort nonetheless.

Cyrano runs from July 13 through Aug. 11 at Gloucester Stage 267 East Main Street, Gloucester, MA. Performances are Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm; Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm. Purchase tickets online or phone the Box Office at 978-281-4433.

All photos by Gary Ng.

[This review originally appeared in the July 18, 2018 Wakefield Daily Item.]



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