Cyrano Rehearsed (Review)

Despite the poetry, New Edgecliff production wastes serious potential

Over several seasons, outgoing Artistic Director Greg Procaccino has elevated New Edgecliff Theater’s reputation with sensitive, provocative productions: David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman and Peter Shaffer’s Equus. Now, in a curious farewell gesture, he’s wasting audience enthusiasm and some estimable players in a misconceived muddle called Cyrano (Rehearsed).

As you enter the Columbia Performance Center, you’re handed a program describing Reservoir Dogs: The Musical. What? Actors swarm the stage, warming up, dancing, practicing swordplay, moving set pieces — all of it as boring as watching somebody paint a storm door. Then an actor announces that, instead of performing Reservoir Dogs, the company will rehearse a new translation/adaptation of Rostand’s 1897 classic, Cyrano de Bergerac.

Does any relationship between Dogs and Cyrano resonate? No. Is any relevance made manifest? No.

The crime here is the wasted potential.

The un-credited prose adaptation is literate and stageworthy. It tells well the tale of Cyrano, the swashbuckling soldier/poet with the outsize nose who lends voice and poetry to his friend Christian’s courtship of Roxanne, the very woman Cyrano adores. Ironies and agonies play out when Christian dies a war hero and when, later, Roxanne discovers whom she truly loves.

Presenting Cyrano in rehearsal clothes with improvised props — a soldier arming for battle with a stapler, for example — lends tactile accessibility that's interesting, even moving.

Three strong performances lead the proceedings. John Scheller and Kim Eldridge give Christian and Roxanne palpable depth. Cast totally against type, Brian Griffin might look like an underfed street punk in a pinhead hat and a paper cone nose, but he’s a thoroughly persuasive Cyrano — in battle, in love and in particular in the swaggering sweep of his poetizing.

Now, if they’d just lose all that drivel about Reservoir Dogs.

CYRANO (REHEARSED), presented by New Edgecliff Theatre, continues through May 1. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.

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