PROVO — The cast members of the BYU Young Company circulated around the small black box theatre, interacting with audience members before the start of Cyrano, directed by Kris Jennings. In the play, De Guiche, played by Kirk Workman, told asked a boy in the audience to take a letter to “that girl” pointing to Roxanne, played by Markaye Haasan. After the boy delivered the letter De Guiche told him how much he liked “that girl.” Other cast members joined in the sending of letter via audience members. As the show prepared to officially start cast members took their letters to John Walker, who would eventually play Cyrano. As the show progressed, more audience members delivered letters to actors. Getting the audience, especially the young members of the audience, involved is one of the strengths of the BYU Young Company.
Cyrano is the story about Cyrano de Bergerac, a poet and charismatic soldier with a large nose. He is in love with the beautiful Roxanne, but feels he cannot pursue her because of his large nose. Roxanne, in the mean time, has fallen in love with a handsome young cadet named Christian. She asks her friend Cyrano to watch over Christian and keep him from harm. She also asks that Christian write letters to her. Christian does not have Cyrano’s gift with words, just as Cyrano does not have Christian’s good looks. So the two men team up to become the perfect man. As Cyrano writes beautiful love letters to Roxanne, she falls into love with Christian, whom she believes is writing the letters. The story of a complex love triangle, Cyrano is a comedy with tragic elements. The original play was written in French by Edmond Rostand, and has been translated and adapted multiple times. This particular production was an adaption by Jo Roets from a translation into English by Audrey Van Tuyckom.
Walker brought a fun, charismatic energy to the stage in his role of Cyrano. I especially loved his asides and self muttering, particularly when they were in the presence of Roxanne. One specific moment that tickled me was when Cyrano was summoned to go meet with Roxanne. His line, “With me?” came out in a high squeak, quickly followed with a lower, “With me?” This same anxiously-in-love schoolboy reaction carried over to the scene where Roxanne tells Cyrano that she is in love. When she begins, Cyrano can misconstrue was she is saying about Christian to be about himself, until she starts speaking of Christian’s good looks. Walker’s responses to Roxanne definitely brought out the comedy and many different levels of emotions.
Similar comedic and emotional responses are found in Cyrano’s first meeting of Christian, played by Bryson Stewart. There were some strong scenes with the members of the love triangle (Cyrano, Christian, and Roxanne). The chemistry, comedic, and dramatic timing were perfect among these three characters. Two scenes in particular stood out: the comedic scene at Roxanne’s balcony and the dramatic battle scene later in the production. I do not want to reveal too much about this production for fear of taking away the delight I had in experiencing these scenes with fresh eyes. But I will say that the balcony scene was perfect illustration of a love triangle and had some fantastic physical comedy. This scene contrasted nicely with the dramatic battle scene which shed new light on the strength of Christian’s character.
The Young Company actors each play multiple roles. This keeps the cast size small as they take their production on the road and perform in classrooms and schools. The production set must also be flexible and transportable. The set for Cyrano, designed by Rachel Bowerbank, was simple and creative. At the start of the production I observed a simple backdrop and a few side-less acting blocks. The backdrop was parchment colored with elegant handwriting flowing across it. Large patches of rich and translucent red, green, blue, and purple added a pop of color and tied into the colors found in the costume designs of Cortnie Deatty and Lizzie Mickelson. The connection of colors used in the drop and in the costumes helped to created a sense of design cohesiveness. The drop took on different configurations to help create different locales throughout the production. During a tragic battle scene the drop became not just a flat background piece but rather a three dimension prop used to portray a fallen soldier.
The run time of this production is only one hour, but the amount the cast is able to accomplish in that short time is splendid. There is such an array of emotions and lessons to be discovered in BYU Young Company’s production of Cyrano. Although this production is geared towards young audiences, this is a production that can be enjoyed by adults, too. Like Cyrano’s nose, you can’t miss it!