'Cyrano' Adapted by Liam Lynch from the original by Edmond Rostand

Presented by Theatre on the Ridge at Scugog Shores Museum Village, Port Perry

Duncan Gibson-Lockhart as Cyrano by Barry McCluskey

Joe Szekeres

This ‘Cyrano’ is a proudly gallant love story adaptation directed with care and sensitivity

(Due to weather conditions postponing two final technical rehearsals, the performance I saw was classified as a final technical/opening night. Some alterations may have probably been made going forward.)

Watching a love story played outside under the evening stars might be considered a romantic evening. Having said story rained out not once but twice just might put a damper on it.

I’m pleased Theatre on the Ridge ventured on and would not allow two nights of unsettled weather conditions to deter the company at all from presenting a proudly gallant love story of which I knew very little. Hearty acknowledgement both to the company for staging a challenging play and to director Liam Lynch for his careful and sensitive vision that works beautifully outdoors. What I found extremely clever that piqued my attention was connecting a 21st-century wedding celebration where the Best Man clearly had unresolved feelings for the bride to the classic French tale of Cyrano de Bergerac involving the same theme.

Lynch adapted the story from the original by Edmond Rostand. Here is the release I received from Theatre on the Ridge:

“When friends and family gather to celebrate a summer nuptial, love is in the air – but for one guest, the secret of unannounced affection pangs within his heart. The rhythm and resolution of these feelings bring forward a classic tale of unrequited love: the story of Roxane, Christian, and Cyrano…Cyrano (Duncan Gibson-Lockhart) is a larger-than-life personality – with a nose to match. Despite being in love with Roxane (Manon Ens-Lapointe), he is paralyzed by his feelings of inadequacy. When the handsome but ineloquent new cadet Christian (Nathan Simpson) also falls in love with Roxane, Cyrano vows to help unite the beautiful couple through his poetry-by-proxy. Beyond hope, war, and tragedy, this story of unrequited love resounds past the confines of the 17th century and into the hearts of any who have dared to find beauty in another’s soul.”

It is a ¾ theatre in the round playing space that works rather nicely as the area is used to its fullest extent. The stage is set for a fancy wedding celebration. The purple and gold colour motif throughout the set decoration in this opening scene suggested a sense of grand pomp and magic about to take place so kudos to Liam Lynch and Carey Nicholson. Gorgeous selection of costumes throughout the production, but I’d like to note especially Cyrano’s and Adriano Reis’s as the Comte de Guiche so again kudos to Nicholson. Michael Williamson’s original music and song lyrics emotionally underscore the dreamy and haunting reminders of the pangs of unrequited love.

This eleven-member cast functions as a true ensemble of players.

Duncan Gibson-Lockhart remains a tremendous force throughout. His Cyrano remains always focused and committed to the moment and in the moment whether he is arrogant, self-pitying, bombastic or in those tender scenes he shares with Manon Ens-Lapointe’s Roxane. The final scene of the play between he and Roxane becomes emotionally moving.

Gibson-Lockhart inherently incorporates the use of his entire physical presence plus perfected listening skills to react realistically. At one point, Christian maliciously makes fun of Cyrano’s nose. At the performance I saw, it was the way in which the light captured Gibson-Lockhart’s intense facial reaction along with his physical response to the hurtful joke that made me feel sad for something that is out of Cyrano’s control.

Manon Ens-Lapointe accordingly never allows her Roxane to veer into histrionics. Like Gibson-Lockhart, she too responds realistically in those heartfelt moments especially at the end when Roxane realizes it has been Cyrano who has written these love letters all along. At one point, Ens-Lapointe moves down and just off to the right side where I was sitting, and I could see tears in her eyes as she delivered her message upstage. Nice work indeed.

This ‘Cyrano’ adaptation is not without its welcome moments of humour most noteworthy in the scene where he feeds the words of love from Nathan Simpson’s egotistical Christian to Roxane. When Cyrano pushes Christian to the side and then speaks these words of love to Roxane, there remains a hope the truth will come out, but it takes years for that to occur. Simpson thankfully never overplays the braggart Christian because there is a believable being inside who truly does love Roxane but doesn’t have that ability to express how he feels.

Adriano Reis’s authoritative Comte de Guiche underlines the emotional impact of the toll love can also take when we are faced with difficult choices in life. Supporting players Karly Friesen, Reid Martin, Landon Nesbitt, Henry Oswald Pierson, and Daniella Reid highlight once again both the humour and the sadness that occurs when we allow the feelings of love to play into our lives.

Final Comments: I really hope the weather co-operates for remaining shows because this adaptation of ‘Cyrano’ begs to be experienced outdoors. In his Director’s Note, Liam Lynch writes:

“Despite our performance location, I have never wanted this play to feel like a piece of history.”

It doesn’t, Liam.

This ‘Cyrano’ becomes a modern reminder for us to tell those whom we love that we continue to do just that no matter what. You’ve succeeded in what you’ve set out to do with this play.

‘Cyrano’ runs approximately two hours with one intermission.

The production runs to August 27 at Scugog Shores Museum Village, 16210 Island Road, Port Perry. For tickets, go to theatreontheridge.ca or call (905) 431-0977.

Cyrano adapted by Liam Lynch from the original by Edmond Rostand
Directed by Liam Lynch
Music & Song Lyrics by Michael Williamson
Stage Manager: Sarah Jewell
Set Design: Liam Lynch Set Decoration: Carey Nicholson
Sound Design: Lyle Corrigan Lighting Design: Colin Hughes
Costume and Props: Carey Nicholson

Assistant Stage Manager and Sound Technician: Christina Naumovski
Lighting Technicians: Ryan King and Andy Williamson

Actors: Manon Ens-Lapointe, Karly Friesen, Duncan Gibson-Lockhart, Reid Martin, Landon Nesbitt, Henry Oswald Pierson, Adriano Reis, Nathan Simpson, Max Hoehn, Michael Williamson

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