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Cyrano De Bergerac (Chester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Grosvenor Park, Chester

Cyrano (Edward Harrison) aids the romance of Christian (Owen Findlay) and Roxane (Sally Scott) in Cyrano De Bergerac at the Grosvenor Park in Chester.
© Chester Peforms

Fine words butter no parsnips, as they say (in that curious turn of phrase), something the three protoganists discover to their cost. For that matter, Rostand must be turning in his grave – wriggling with delight at the consummate skill with which Glyn Maxwell has adapted this play, with its nod to Shakespeare in one clowning scene, and several winks at Molière. Indeed, the wit snaps heads off at some points, scabrous where religion is concerned.

Cyrano, with a huge nose for trouble, pokes fun at poets and pretension, whips his sword out at the slightest provocation, and comes to the rescue of Christian, writing love letters on his behalf, in a most poignant tale of unrequited love: the hero fatally lost for words, the heroine so foolishly obsessed with romance she ignores the truth which is as plain as the nose on your face, and Cyrano himself, ironically suffering in silence.

Edward Harrison genuinely has the panache for this amazing character, at times reminiscent of Matt Smith (BBC, if you're listening…) while Owen Findlay, handsome is as handsome does in his inarticulacy, is eloquent in action, and Sally Scott delightful and infuriating by turn. There are also excellent cameos from Katherine Toy (Duenna), Nichole Bird (Priest) and Maxwell Hutcheon as de Guiche, evolving from pompous poseur to noble.

Bigger and better than ever, the sophistication is not at the cost of necessary and delightfully inventive touches; nuns become soldiers in a flash, a baker's shop turns into a battlefield etc. On a rare summer's evening, the setting sun and rising moon cast a glow over a wonderfully magical performance.

- Carole Baldock