I’ve always loved walking into stories without knowing anything about them. Walking into Cyrano, put on by First Impressions Theatre, all my expectations came from the little pamphlet that found its way into my hand as I entered the theatre. “A swashbuckling romantic adventure” was type on a gold banner, in an excitable looking red font, over the title. This description definitely wasn’t wrong, but I wouldn’t say it did the show justice.
The play is set in France around the time of the Franco-Spanish civil war. Cyrano (played by Ryan Crocker) is a poet, a soldier, wielder of a very long nose, and is deeply in love with the beautiful and much admired Roxanne (Colleen Rae Lornie), who also happens to be his cousin. There’s a romantic triangle, sword fighting, heroics, and a lot clever verse. So definitely some swashbuckling and a fair bit of romance.
But beyond just a clever and well written script and adaptation (the work Michael Hollinger and Aaron Posner) from a well written book by Edmond Rostand, what really made this play stand out was the love and appreciation for the source material in the direction by Claude A. Giroux and in the production values. The joy of the actors stood behind every quippy jab or self aware joke about Cyrano’s nose. There were a few fourth wall breaks delivered with so much reverence and excitement for the story that as a member in the audience you just can’t help but get sucked in.
The story itself, of course, gave everyone lots to work with. Complex questions like “what is the nature of love?” and “is it really blind?” make the story relevant to anyone watching. The characters themselves also struggle with very human insecurities: that they’re not handsome enough, not smart enough, not good enough.
Against the backdrop of some simple, flexible, and beautifully done set decorations, this story shone brightly. Dynamic and creative use of props let the plot develop without drawing attention away from the story or making the time period feel gimmicky. For the first scene, the audience is even coopted as part of the story with Roxanne sitting up on the box watch the same stage we are and it’s exceptional attention to subtle details like this that tied the play together perfectly. My favourite part was a set of ever rotating place cards, on each side of the stage, indicating where each scene as set and creating a sense that what you’re seeing is a series of snapshots in the lives of the characters.
I really enjoyed this play. I’m not sure what I expected walking into it, but it delivered everything I could have wanted and more. And that’s not light praise, it’s difficult to surprise the imagination.
Cyrano is playing at the Deep Cove Shaw Theatre, Wed thru Sat until 22 September 2018.
Tickets at: www.firstimpressionstheatre.com/
~ reviewed by Sunny Tchoukova
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