This review is written by American-Statesman freelance critic Claire Canavan.)
The legend of Cyrano de Bergerac looms as large as the poetic hero’s famous nose.
Austin Shakespeare launches its own spirited version of the tale with a new staging of French dramatist Edmund Rostand’s play, "Cyrano de Bergerac." Ann Ciccolella directs the show (translated by Brian Hooker), which runs through December 7th at the Long Center’s Rollins Studio Theater.
"Cyrano de Bergerac" takes place in a romantic version of 17th century France, a world of duels, feathered hats, and wigs galore. Cyrano (Marc Pouhé), a well-respected poet and swordsman, believes he could never win the love of his cousin Roxanne (Amber Quick) due to his absurdly large nose.
When Roxanne confesses her affection for a handsome but foolish soldier named Christian (Keith Paxton), Cyrano agrees to help Christian woo Roxanne through the power of beautiful language, writing passionate letters that win her heart on another man’s behalf.
Austin Shakespeare’s production hits the perfect balance between comedy and tragedy. Director Ciccolella keeps the show running at a swift pace and the actors handle the expressive language of the script with apparent ease. Though some of the staging is stiff due to set constraints, the show still brims with life due to the excellent lead actors.
As Cyrano, Marc Pouhé captivates the audience with his strong presence and resonant voice. The brilliance of Pouhé’s portrayal is that he captures Cyrano’s emotional vulnerability just as convincingly as the character’s confidence and eloquence. As his love interest, Roxanne, Amber Quick is equally compelling. She turns Roxanne into an intelligent, strong-willed woman full of compassion and charm.
"Cyrano de Bergerac" is a classic story for a reason. The bittersweet tale reminds us of the power of words, and the enduring nature of true love.
"Cyrano de Bergerac" continues through December 7, Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m. Rollins Studio Theater at the Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Dr. Tickets $22-39. Tickets at http://www.longcenter.org or call (512-474-LONG).