Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Eric Hissom is younger than many actors who play Cyrano de Bergerac, and in fact the character's famous exaggerated, bulbous nose makes him look a little clownlike. He does have the necessary affinity for language, the aversion to compromise, and the swagger. However, he loses two big opportunities for verbal showmanship because this distillation of the text excises part of the "nose insult" and "no, thank you" speeches, two extended passages that can play like arias at their full length.
On the other hand, the use of a small cast permits Posner an opportunity to depict an event not dramatized by RostandCyrano's battle against 100 men (portrayed in a balletic fashion by a rotation of a few actors) that occurs between the first two scenes. Also, the colloquial American-flavored translation allows for some contemporary laughs, as when the cadets of Cyrano's company dismissively refer to the newly arrived Christian de Neuvilette (Bobby Moreno) as "the new guy," and Christian himself decries his problems with "the language thing" in pursuing the beautiful, intellectual Roxane (Brenda Withers).
Withers brings a real backbone and spirit to the role of Roxane: she seizes a sword to fight alongside the men at the siege of Arras, and one feels she might have been Cyrano's dearest comrade-in-arms had she been a man.
Of the rest of the cast, Craig Wallace stands out as the powerful nobleman De Guiche with his rich voice and tall, imposing presence.
Scenic designer Daniel Conway has created an ingenious set that squeezes every bit of playing space from the constricted Folger stage.