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Cyrano de Bergerac

Tramway, Glasgow
Five Stars

When Edwin Morgan’s rollicking Scots verse adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s nineteenth century epic of unrequited love, grand gestures and its eponymous hero’s desperate self-loathing first appeared in 1992, it laid bare the poetic power of love on a universal scale.

A quarter of a century on, Dominic Hill’s revival for the first off-site Citizens Theatre production in its temporary new home at Tramway honours Morgan’s rendering of Rostand’s yarn in vivid and audacious fashion, delivering the entire production with an almighty swagger.

Surrounded by punk-styled dandies and garishly-clad soldier boys and girls mixing and matching Pam Hogg’s era-hopping costume design, Brian Ferguson’s Cyrano is a mercurial street-poet terrier who hides his self-consciousness about his oversize nose behind a demeanour that is part court jester, part ragamuffin provocateur. This barely masks a lovesick melancholy and a huge intellect that finds an outlet in drafting romantic bon-mots on cake shop paper bags.

As his unknowing beloved Roxane in this co-production with the National Theatre of Scotland and the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, Jessica Hardwick sashays the battle-lines like a vertiginous wedding cake decoration with a towering bouffant and a motor-mouthed patter straight off a Glasgow dance hall. Keith Fleming makes a venomously foppish De Fuiche, and Scott Mackie is a dim but devoted Christian.

With the audience seated on three sides of the action in Tramway’s main performance space, Hill’s company of fourteen actors lend depth to the story beyond the laughs on Tom Piper’s wide-open set. Nikolai Kodjabasha’s live score played by the cast moves between tender piano sketches and martial bombast. Morgan’s poetry is a perennially rich concoction, laced with the pains of being artfully alone and brought to life with furious and heart-breaking relish in a vintage production fired with breath-taking panache.

The Herald, September 7th 2018

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