By Ashley Reid
Exploding with panache only begins to describe “Cyrano”, the recent play about the French poet and master swordsman in 1640 Paris who falls in love with the already-spoken-for Roxane, which is performing at the Arden Theatre Co. in Old City, Philadelphia from March 8 through April 15.
The play began with the character of Le Bret standing in the middle of the simple yet elegant set that was composed of a wooden planked stage with two iron bar staircases on both sides with the middle joining to form a steep balcony. Several blank golden picture frames created the backdrop. During each scene a projection of fruit or the Parisian night sky was reflected onto the picture’s blank canvases.
Le Bret opened the performance in a smooth and eloquent voice, introducing the audience to Cyrano as the ultimate Renaissance Man. When Cyrano entered the play in a fury of pride, dressed in a traditional French seventeenth century three-musketeer getup with his notoriously large nose. He sang and played the guitar in a powerful ballad to the Gascony guards and fought off a “hundred” men in the Parisian dark night. He insulted his enemies, entertained his fellow Gascony cadets, and flattered his true love Roxane. Cyrano, played by Erick Hissom, brought a dramatic energy to his quick-witted, sharp-tongued and passionate Cyrano.
Roxane, played by Jessica Cummings, and her true love, Christian, played by Luigi Sottile, complemented Cyrano nicely, and emphasized the power of his performance even more. Roxane was flat at the beginning, but evolved into a soft-spoken, yet strong woman. Sottile’s performance occasionally went over the top, but that is not to say that his acting was inadequate at the least. Overall, Cummings and Sottile helped to fuel a nice chemistry between Cyrano and the play’s ensemble
Roxanne, Christian, and Cyrano shared a wonderful chemistry together. This was especially evident in the scene when Cyrano and Christian tried to woo Roxane from below her balcony. Cyrano, obscured by a bench, fed his poetry to an often uncomprehending Christian, in the hope that Roxane would fall in love with him instead of Christian. The scene was one one of the production’s liveliest and most enjoyable sequences.