Unless you’re a student of (French) literature and history, the poet, duellist and nobleman Cyrano de Bergerac will be amongst the unlikely historical characters that have crossed your path. But fear not: Attending the St. Hilda’s College Drama Society’s production of the homonymous play, translated by the Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess, will provide an entertaining (albeit fictionalised) introduction to this peculiar man.
Set in 17th-century France, the plot follows de Bergerac (Douglas Taylor) who, apart from being skilled in his use of words and swords, is as madly in love with his cousin Roxane (Ann-Marie Cross) as he is self-conscious about his protruding nose, in his quest to win her affection. Unaware of his feelings, Roxane asks him to befriend the pretty, yet ineloquent Christian (Charlie MacVicar), Cyrano’s fellow cadet in the Gascony military company and the object of her romantic aspirations. And as if this emerging love triangle wasn’t already complicated enough, Cyrano begins to pen love letters to Roxane on behalf of Christian, creating the seemingly perfect combination of Christian’s good looks with his own volubility and wit. But as they’re both sent to fight in a recently erupted war, the story is changed by a sudden twist…
According to director and native French speaker Callyane Desroches, “the play should move the audience from laughter to tears”. And with the juxtaposition of sophisticated banter, unrequited love and gut-wrenching tragedy, her rendition of Cyrano de Bergerac is an event in Oxford’s theatre calendar not to be missed.
Judging from the three scenes that were on offer for the preview, the production promises to be an equally humorous and dramatic show with a talented cast, carefully-selected props and live music to accompany certain scenes in the intimate atmosphere of the JDP Auditorium. And even if you don’t care for plays from the 19th century, France or romance/drama in any shape or form, perhaps the scene involving authentic 17th century fencing will take your fancy, because – well, how could it not? Everybody loves a good duel.
Cyrano de Bergerac is showing at the Jacqueline du Pré building on the 27th, 29th and 30th November (7th week). It will contain occasional strobe lighting effects. Tickets are £7/£5 for students and can be purchased via the society’s website.
PHOTO/ shot from Stanley Kramer productions, via Wikipedia Commons