Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Cyrano de Bergerac

Matt Edwards, William Oberholtzer, Jessica Woehler, Johnny Quesada, Philomena Block, Harvey Jordan, J.R. Yancher, Lisa Halko and Sydney Schwindt perform in the Davis Shakespeare Festival's production of Edmond Rostand’s “Cyrano de Bergerac,” running through July 31. Gabby Battista/Courtesy photo  
The Davis Shakespeare Ensemble opened its 2016 festival this week, with an impressive production of “Cyrano de Bergerac,” directed by Rob Salas. “Cyrano” will run in repertory with “Bells are Ringing” through the end of July.

Edmond Rostand’s story (adapted by Anthony Burgess) may be one of the saddest love stories written. Cyrano is a man with great moral values, noble to the core. He is a dashing swashbuckler, able to take on 100 men single-swordedly.

He is glib of tongue and has a wonderful sense of self-deprecation, knowing his shortcomings … or is that long-comings, referring to his prominent proboscis. He deflects insults about his nose with jokes of is own making — “ ‘Is this a conch? … are you a Triton?,’ “That’s a dwarf pumpkin, or a giant turnip!” “When it bleeds it’s the Red Sea!”

Matt Edwards is a marvelous Cyrano, full of cape-swirling panache. He is in love with the beautiful Roxane (Kristi Webb), but knows his suit is hopeless as she is in love with the handsome but inarticulate Christian de Neuvillette (Pablo Lopez). Christian is also in love with her and asks for Cyrano’s help in wooing the lady of his dreams.

Cyrano writes the words that help Christian ply his suit, unaware that they are Cyrano’s own feelings for the girl. When Christian is sent off to battle, Cyrano goes along to protect him, and to write letters home to Roxane for him, to keep the love alive.

When Christian is killed, Cyrano has too much respect for Roxane’s feelings for her husband to let her know the truth about him. He remains her friend, and silent lover, for the rest of his life, leading to a beautifully touching death scene.

But Cyrano is far more than a story of unrequited love. There is plenty of sword play (Sydney Schwindt is fight director, though Edwards is himself a fight choreographer) and lots of bad guys to go around.

There’s Comte de Guiche (Tim Gaffaney), a powerful, married nobleman himself in love with Roxane and not fond of Cyrano. He attempts several times unsuccessfully to have Cyrano killed,
Ragueneau (Harvey Jordan) is Cyrano’s friend, a baker and a poet, who becomes Roxane’s porter after his business fails.

William Oberholtzer is Le Bret, Cyrano’s BFF, who tries to steer his friend in the least dangerous path, but his advice is usually ignored by Cyrano.

Kyle Stoner is Vicomte de Valvert, the nobleman chosen by deGuiche as Roxane’s husband. He is tricked by Cyrano to remain outside the house while Roxane is secretly wed to Christian, and then is defeated in a duel after the wedding, when he objects.

The multi-level set is designed by Niko Rabbitt and, together with the costumes by Caitlin Cisek, works well to create the look of a 1600s city.

“Cyrano de Bergerac” is a play that has it all, from verbal duels and actual swordplay, to a beautiful love story, to honor and friendship and a hero who stands head and shoulders above many heroes.
The Davis Shakespeare Ensemble does justice to this classic tale and it sets the stage for a promising summer festival.

For a housekeeping note, the high school parking lot is closed for the summer, but parking is available either on the street, in the St. James Church parking lot or in the Stephens Branch Library parking lot. The city also has created a new white zone directly in front of the Veterans Memorial Center for easy drop-offs.

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