Chicago Shakespeare Theater has opened its 2013-14 season with a stunning and unforgettable interpretation of Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac.
Director Penny Metropulos and Harry Groener are back together again after their extremely successful collaboration in The Madness of George III, and both are at their best in this production of Rostand’s work, translated and adapted for the stage by Anthony Burgess, best known for his Clockwork Orange.
Every theater lover knows those rare moments when everything comes together – the writing, acting, directing, setting, music, lighting - and one becomes so immersed in the magic that the moment becomes real. There are many such moments in this play.
Harry Groener is simply superb as Cyrano. I don’t think I could find enough adjectives to describe his brilliant performance. He doesn’t just play Cyrano; for almost three hours each evening, he is Cyrano.
The play begs us to reconsider the dichotomies of appearances and substance, love and hate, reality and illusion, and longing and contentment. Cyrano, the expert swordsman, the master of words, the one who appears to so many to always be in control of himself and the situation, is at heart filled with contradictions, and his vulnerability is wistfully conveyed through Groener’s skill.
Set designer Kevin Depinet has created a very evocative mood, not only of what one would see, but also what one would feel, and even smell, in such settings.
Julie Jesneck and Nick Dillenburg, both newcomers to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater stage, perform admirably in the starring roles of Roxanne and Christian, as does the rest of the cast members in their respective roles.
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