Thu, 14 Nov 2019
Picture by Philip Tull
Watermill Young Company: Cyrano de Bergerac
at The Watermill, Bagnor, from Wednesday, October 30, to Saturday, November 2
REVIEW by CAROLINE FRANKLIN
TWO things emerged from my evening at The Watermill, the first being that all my life I have mispronounced the name Cyrano (wrongly putting the emphasis on the second syllable) and the other, that the Watermill Young Company are a group of very able actors aged 16+ who are a pleasure to watch. The story of the real life Cyrano, a soldier, poet and famed swordsman, was the subject of a play written in 1897 by Edmond Rostand, here adapted by Glyn Maxwell. The result is, by turns, romantic, heartbreaking, poignant and often very funny.
Cyrano (Frank Smith giving a faultless performance which cleverly brought out the emotions of the great man) has everything except the woman he loves (Isabelle Klein as the beautiful Roxanne). Hampered by an enormous Pinocchio-type nose, Cyrano feels he has no chance of winning his love and instead helps the young tongue-tied soldier, Christian (superbly played by Harry Forkin), to win Roxanne by writing beautiful poetry for him to send her. Aided by Cyrano, the couple marry as Cyrano sadly accepts that he is “a man the world would rather listen to than look at”.
The soldiers of Gascony, including Christian and Cyrano, go to war and still Cyrano writes three letters a day to Roxanne who has no idea that it is not Christian who is the romantic poet. The war rages and Count de Guiche (Henry Barker) tells his exhausted men to hold on for just one more hour, but the result is a battle in which Christian dies. Finally, and many years later, we return to the opening scene in which nuns gathered in their convent to learn the story of Cyrano. This last farewell is beautifully staged and quietly moving as the nuns on the balcony watch white petals falling on the body of Cyrano below.
The actors brought the facets of the many characters to life with panache, sensitivity and humour, as required. There was no weak link, the dialogue ran smoothly, never holding up the action and the movement, often through the theatre or on a crowded stage, was slickly achieved, speaking of much rehearsal.
It was all worth it. This production, directed by Seamus Allen, provided a most enjoyable evening for the audience as well as a showcase for the talented members of the Watermill Young Company.