Cyrano at York Theatre Royal – Catherine Greensmith and Christine Knights write:

Catherine: A French literary classic with a twist. For a French audience used to the beauty and the poetry of the original text by Edmond Rostand the play may have come as a bit of a shock! This was very much a play adapted for an English audience, for a local audience in fact with the majority of the actors speaking with a strong Yorkshire accent! If the original text had been replaced by a vernacular dialogue full of expletives, there were however some interesting details such as the priest Le Bret speaking with an Irish accent. For me perhaps the most challenging factor was Roxanne’s obvious foreign accent. The pronunciation of the French names was also at times difficult to follow. For a linguist this was a little unfortunate!

It may be that the playwright, Deborah Mc Andrew, wanted to go back to the origins of Cyrano de Bergerac a libertine seventeen’s century author. The swashbuckle very lively interpretation would have perhaps benefited from a different title in order to avoid the usual expectations linked to the play.

An contemporary adaptation of the original – it certainly was ….
An unexpected experience – it certainly was….
A lively evening – it certainly was….
A  theatrical tour de force – it certainly was….
A boring evening it certainly wasn’t!!

Christine: The recent YTI trip to see Cyrano at the York Theatre Royal was a real treat. I always enjoy going to the theatre but it was fascinating to see a play based on a French classic in the company of our French colleagues. This particular version was written by Deborah McAndrew for the Northern Broadsides and the New Vic Theatre.

In summary, the play is a tale of unrequited love set in 17th century France. Cyrano de Bergerac, a brilliant poet and swordsman, is in love with his beautiful cousin Roxane. The tale ends in tragedy, but there are plenty of comedy exploits, songs, sword fights and acrobatics along the way.

The production was visually beautiful with effective scenery and lovely costumes. It was an extremely musical version of the story; actors who are also good musicians are always impressive and enjoyable to watch. There was a strong comedic element, with jokes about Cyrano’s big nose and exaggerated tales of his prowess as a swordsman. All this was good fun.

Also though, I have been surprised at how thought-provoking the production has been for me. One of the most enjoyable elements of the evening was discussing the play with French colleagues who have known it since their teens because their impression was so different from my own.  In Northern Broadsides productions, actors perform in their natural voices so Cyrano was basically an adaptation, a quirky mixture of a swashbuckling French past and current English language. I loved the moments that caught the Northern voice because for me this gave an extra comic dimension, and in places added emotional depth.

Cyrano is touring now, and even if you don’t fancy seeing it, I recommend having a look at http://www.northern-broadsides.co.uk/ to find out more about the company, Deborah McAndrew and this particular production.