Theatre Review: Cyrano de Bergerac – in the garden

28 characters, 9 actors and Dave Simms directing – you know it’s going to be an action packed, fast moving adventure.

By

Presented by Blue Sky Theatre
Reviewed 11th January 2109

28 characters, 9 actors and Dave Simms directing – you know it’s going to be an action packed, fast moving adventure. Nuns, wicked counts, a tall, blond, handsome hero, a beautiful ingénue hopelessly in love with the, golden-haired, handsome hero who’s basically beautiful but stupid!  A tightly bonded group of French soldiers, a major character with an abnormal physical defect. Who could ask for anything more? And the nuns sing, bonus.

The annual Blue Sky Theatre event in collaboration with Open Gardens Australia has become a highly anticipated event. Blue Sky Theatre present their award-winning productions in four award-winning gardens. If you are looking for a stimulating and thoroughly enjoyable night out in an award-winning garden, presented by a group of versatile and dynamic actors, you don’t have to look any further than this.

This weekend they are presenting Cyrano de Bergerac in the Brook Road Garden, Victor Harbor – a beautiful natural bush setting which lends itself to the presentation of a piece of theatre. Nature has created a natural amphitheatre which makes a perfect backdrop for this age-old but heartwarming and very funny story of unrequited love, revenge, love and above all (let’s not ignore the nose in the room) sacrifice because of a massive dose of lack of self-worth. Funny how stories endure the test of time if they have a lesson for us to discover.

There is not a weak link in this show, onstage and off. The action flows seamlessly, and the cast flip and change characters at the drop of a hat. An array of costumes (made by Blue Sky’s dedicated and talented costume team) are removed in daring reveals, props are deftly and seamlessly integrated into the action, and a simple but effective set (Maurice Keen) supports, but never intrudes into, the action. There is not a moment of time where the story doesn’t get told and the audience doesn’t get hooked in. I enjoyed watching the audience as much as the actors, as they were pulled forward to the edge of their seats by this witty, intelligent and beautifully crafted script, written in 1897 by Edmond Rostand and adapted by Glyn Maxwell for open air performance in 2007.

James Edwards’ Cyrano was intelligent, sensitive and a joyful journey of love, sacrifice and pain…. and we have to address the elephant in the script – a very good nose! Robert Bell, as his rival for the beautiful Roxanne, was at his comic best, but not without his moment or two of pathos. Ashley Penny was not only beautiful to look at (her costume was exquisite) but her Roxane was pitched with just the right amount of comedy to make the tragedy of her situation even more heartbreaking in the end.

Joshua Coldwell’s Ragueneau was a delight; his broad, dynamic characterisation and the warmth of his generosity added a great deal to the dimensionality of the play. Lee Cook was, as always, cast in just the right role to display his ability to play a dysfunctional, self-absorbed character to great effect. It was a really lively and well thought-through portrayal of what could be a rather ordinary character – not in the hands of Mr Cook, though. Sterling job. Leighton Vogt makes up the band of merry men, and his Le Bret is a lesson in how to bring empathy and care into a performance to great effect. His Le Bret was expansive and generous.

I’m not ignoring the women; essentially, I am leaving the best ‘til last. Joanne St Clair, Angela Short, Miriam Keane, Nicole Rutty and Lindy Le Cornu – these women change character sooo many times I got dizzy. LeCornu is an object lesson in character change; she never missed a moment, from Mother Superior to maid to soldier. Miriam Keane has a real handle on just how much fun you can have with several different characters; how much fun they were to play was obvious, I will never unsee that image of The Baker’s Wife. Angela Short is as sharp, clever and appropriately-behaved for everything she undertakes, even the naughty bits. Joanne St Clair has a wicked sense of humour which imbues her characters with just the right amount of grumpy (non-gender-specified). That leaves Nicole Rutty.  I was concerned that had she removed another layer of clothing we might have been heading into adults-only territory. I have never seen someone change characters so quickly; at the top of the show she appears to have a change every 30 seconds.

A special mention for Phil Short, who’s subtly pitched guitar accompaniment added a rich texture to the piece of work.

This is a highly recommended show for all the family. Pack a picnic (or order one with your tickets). There’s a bar open before and after the show. Cyrano is a wonderful tale of love, hope regret and friendship. It’s been around the block a few times, is a role coveted by many a famous actor, and has been getting the occasional injection of new energy. This is a unique opportunity to see a play which has endured the test of time, and with Dave Simms at the helm, it is assured of a new look at an old story.

Thoroughly recommended; don’t hang around book some seats now. This could well sell out very soon. And watch out for the drum!

Reviewed by Adrian Barnes

Additional Information
The bar is open, you can look around the garden prior to the show and have your picnic.
You are welcome to bring your own picnic or buy one of theirs when you book.
The picnic box contains bread, nibbles, olives and much more for $13 per person.
NOTE: While the picnic is suitable for vegetarians, due to the nature of the event we cannot cater for other dietary requirements. If in doubt, bring your own!
There is a licensed bar selling Howard’s vinyard red, white, rose and sparkling wine, Cooper’s beer and Bickford’s soft drinks. NO BYO ALCOHOL PLEASE.
You are welcome to bring rugs, chairs, tables, eskies; whatever you need to enjoy your picnic prior to the show and at interval.
For the show, they provide you with a seat. Feel free to bring your own cushion, even a rug in case it gets cool once the sun goes down.
Show starts at 6.30pm PROMPT.
30 minute interval at 7.40pm
The bar is open at the interval
Show ends just after 9.00pm
It will be dark at the end so bring a torch if you wish. And remember it can get cool after the sun sets.

Venue:  Brook Road Garden, Victor Harbour: 11th, 12th & 13th January, 6.30pm
Season: Brook Road Garden, Victor Harbour: 11th, 12th & 13th Jan 6.30pm
Collingrove Homestead, Angaston: 19th & 20th January 6.30pm
Carrick Hill, Springfield: 25th,26th, 27th January 6.30pm
Stangate House, Aldgate 1st & 2nd February 6.30pm
[Gates open at 4:00pm]
Duration:  2hrs 30minutes
Tickets:  Full Price: $35:00;  Picnic per person $13.00
Bookings: www.blueskytheatre.com.au

http://www.blueskytheatre.com.au/
http://collingrovehomestead.com.au/
http://www.carrickhill.sa.gov.au/
http://stangatehouse.org.au/

 

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