Cyrano de Bergerac
Thu Nov 8 2007
Photo: Carol Rosegg
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5
The raison d’être of Edmond Rostand’s lovelorn, megaschnozzed warrior-poet Cyrano de Bergerac is “panache.” It’s one of those words best explained by other francophone terms: élan, joie de vivre, esprit. In English we just call it style. The question is, does David Leveaux’s starry revival of Rostand’s 1897 classic carry sufficient panache? Tom Pye’s cavernous set is painterly pretty; Kevin Kline has excellent makeup in the title role; and, um, the hats have big plumes. Alas, for a play about the tyranny of surfaces, this version is all looks, little soul.
The production stars Jennifer Garner (Alias) as Roxane, and you can smell the acting class wafting off the high-cheekboned TV star. She seizes upon a passing remark that Roxane is “bookish” in Anthony Burgess’s muscular, earthy adaptation and delivers Roxane as a gawky poetry nerd. Her interpretation is amusing for 15 minutes, then it becomes clear that Garner’s laborious, self-consciously theatrical approach lacks shading and flow, crucial when Rostand’s romance veers into its tragic denouement.
As Christian, the young soldier who woos Roxane using the words of facially challenged verse-slinger Cyrano, Daniel Sunjata is stiff and overly humorless. That he lacks chemistry with Garner is a shame, but it’s worse that he doesn’t mesh with Kline. Speaking of that sonorous and graceful actor, he lends himself to the play as he usually does, as if he were doing it a favor. In this case, he’s right.