Cyrano de Bergerac needs little introduction: it is a story of the man in possession of the sharpest wit in France; the greatest literary mind; most fearsome sword skills and, of course, a hooter that crosses several national borders.
Perfect in every way apart from his unfortunate marrow-sized schnoz, our hero has to battle with his unrequited love for Roxane, while courting her on behalf of the beautiful but thick Christian (played by Philip Scott-Wallace's and baring an alarming resemblance to Prince William). Too dense to express his amore with eloquence; and too nasal for a kiss to be a logistical possibility – together the pair make up one whole of that mythical creature: The Perfect Man and win the heart of Roxane.
Black and White Rainbow deliver good swashbuckling romantic action in the form of rhyming couplets from Edward Rostrand's classic play, at the minimally designed yet intimate space of the White Bear.
Gwilym Lloyd as Cyrano does a fine job, injecting sincerity into this most ridiculous of literary characters, as does Iris Roberts, who brings a dose of refreshing humour to the part of Roxane. However, Lloyd’s fake nose plays a more convincing part than some of the members of the supporting cast. Although Lucy Eaton as Roxane’s Duenna stands out, with her knack for wry, spot-on comic timing.
Particularly enjoyable is the exchange between Cyrano and an ill-advised nose taunter, who is promptly cut down and dispatched with, thanks to our hero’s masterly verbal and technical prowess. But while some of the scenes are pure rip-roaring fun, there’s a distinct sag in places.
I admit I’ve never been a big fan of the rhyming couplet. After nearly three hours, the production becomes the verbal equivalent of an extended sword fight, of the sort where the actors are the only ones left enjoying themselves. And you can’t help but feel slightly relieved when Cyrano snuffs it.
A stronger cast might have made this is snappier production and earned it another star. But all is forgiven as Lloyds ebullient performance of the irrepressible olfactory organ abundant character can’t fail to woo.