AISLE SAY San Francisco


by Edmond Rostand
Translated by Michael Hollinger
Adapted by Michael Hollinger & Aaron Posner
Directed by Robert Kelley
Presented by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley
Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts
500 Castro St., Mountain View, CA / (650) 463-1960

Reviewed by Judy Richter

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley is staging "Cyrano," a pared down version of Edmond Rostand's "Cyrano de Bergerac."

Translator Michael Hollinger and his co-adapter Aaron Posner have updated the script and reduced the cast to 10 actors, most of whom play several roles.

The action takes place between 1640 and 1655, mostly in Paris. Cyrano (J. Anthony Crane) is a swashbuckling soldier and talented poet who has no use for mediocrity. He's also possessed of an ultra large nose that keeps him from expressing his love for his beautiful distant cousin, Roxane (Sharon Rietkerk).

She confides to him that she has fallen into instant and mutual love with handsome Christian (Chad Deverman), who's about to join Cyrano's regiment. She wants Christian to profess his love with eloquence, but he's painfully inarticulate. Consequently, Cyrano supplies him with the flowery words that he repeats to Roxane.

In between there are sword fights and battles that ultimately end in tragedy and too-late discoveries.

Director Robert Kelley has assembled a talented ensemble cast, but at about two hours and 40 minutes, the two-act show goes on too long. One example is the scene in which Cyrano singlehandedly dispatches 100 attackers.

As the audience enters, the actors are on stage donning their costumes (by Fumiko Bielefeldt) and moving set pieces (by Joe Ragey) into place. Between the dark set and Pamila Z. Gray's lighting, the production feels dark.

Still, several actors capture one's admiration, starting with Rietkerk and including Monica Cappuccini as her nurse (chaperone). Also noteworthy are Michael Gene Sullivan as Cyrano's friend Le Bret and Darren Bridgett in several roles.

Although this script and production are mostly enjoyable, people who saw American Conservatory Theatre's productions in 1992 and the '70s may find it doesn't measure up to those standards.

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