The Oxford Theatre Guild’s version of Cyrano de Bergerac was an enthusiastic delivery of a classic play. The story of Cyrano, a poet and swordsman with a massive nose who writes letters to his friend’s sweetheart on the friend’s behalf because he thinks he’ll never be worthy of her love, is a classic tale, still relevant and moving today.
The ensemble scenes were the highlight of the show, nicely managed and with some vibrant and engaging performances from the smaller parts (James Webster and Pypa Wait were especially good, with Pypa delivering a hilarious but all too brief Sister Marthe). The costume and set were excellent, and I liked the use of the various spaces on stage and in the audience. In the balcony scene, Rupert Winter as Cyrano and Katie Collier as Roxane worked up some real chemistry, and delivered a charming performance.
I feel, however, this wasn’t the best translation of the play – at times the script felt very stilted Cyrano, meant to be so quick and sharp, was given a variety of clunky lines, which made the characterization feel inconsistent. Pacing was also a bit patchy throughout, and the first half in particular felt far too log.
The play also felt like the wrong use of the company – this talent and sense of fun of the group shone through, but most of the actors were given very little to do. I’d love to see the Oxford Theatre Guild putting on a big, silly ensemble farce instead.