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Washington DC by Susan Berlin

Cyrano

Cyrano
Eric Hissom and
Brenda Withers

The adaptation of Cyrano receiving its world premiere production at Washington's Folger Theatre pares down Edmond Rostand's original to two and a half brisk hours and a cast of nine. While much of the humor and intrigue of the original remains in Michael Hollinger's new translation and the adaptation by Hollinger and director Aaron Posner, the overall effect is a little weak; maybe such a vivid character needs more spectacle than he gets here.

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 Rostand—Cyrano'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.

Folger Theatre
Cyrano
April 26th - June 5th
By Edmond Rostand, translated by Michael Hollinger, adapted by Michael Hollinger and Aaron Posner
De Valvert and others: Dan Crane
Lignière and others: Chris Genebach
Le Bret and others: Steve Hendrickson
Cyrano de Bergerac: Eric Hissom
Christian de Neuvilette and others: Bobby Moreno
Ragueneau and others: Richard Ruiz
Montfleury and others: Todd Scofield
De Guiche and others: Craig Wallace
Roxane and others: Brenda Withers
Directed by Aaron Posner
201 E. Capitol St., S.E.
Washington, DC
Ticket Information: 202-544-7077 or www.folger.edu
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-- Susan Berlin


Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.



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