The nose has it


Adapted by Jo Roets
English translation by Audrey Van Tuyckom
Directed by Floyd Rumohr
The Chekhov Theatre Ensemble
Jose Quintero Theatre
534 West 42nd Street (212/244-7529)
Equity showcase (closes Mar. 15)
Review by Jenny Sandman

Ever since Steve Martin starred in Roxanne, most people are familiar with the story of Cyrano de Bergerac -- the big-nosed gallant who loved Roxanne from afar, speaking his poetic words of love through her handsome (but dull) suitor, Christian. In Roets’s new adaptation, four people play the various parts of Cyrano de Bergerac in just under an hour.

Set in 16th-century France, Cyrano (T. Scott Lilly) loves his cousin Roxanne (April Cantor), but thinks he is too ugly to ever win her heart. When he hears she is in love with Christian (Robert Lee Taylor), a soldier in his regiment, he gives Christian the letters he has been secretly writing to Roxanne for some time. With Cyrano’s poetic letters, Christian wins Roxanne’s heart. Cyrano has only the small comfort that Roxanne fell in love with his words, even if his words are coming from another man. When Christian is tragically killed in battle, Cyrano is still too shy to come forward, and his secret is revealed only under the most tragic of circumstances.

It is a sad story, made more poignant by the drastic shortening. Cut down to under an hour, this Cyrano is much more streamlined, highlighting only the essential elements of the story, with nimble direction by Floyd Rumohr. The production itself makes full use of the small space, with lovely lighting (Dominic Housiaux) and sound (Margaret Pine). The set (Russell Michael Schramm) was a bit too black at times, but didn’t detract from the fine acting. The costumes (Andrea Huelse) were beautifully authentic. Rumohr made the right choice in setting the play in 15th-century France, rather than in a generic no-time or in the present.

The four actors (Lilly, Cantor, Taylor, and Georgia Southern) changed roles and costumes almost continually, breathlessly rushing from scene to scene, quickening the forward movement of the piece even further. They were all quite versatile and dynamic. Lilly is a gem as Cyrano, vibrant and witty. Cyrano is definitely worth seeing for the excellent acting and the high-speed adaptation

Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 2
Acting: 2
Sets: 1
Costumes: 2
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2003 Jenny Sandman