note: entire contents copyright 2010 by Sheila Barth
Apollinaire Theatre Company’s two-hour, free theater in the park production of “Cyrano de Bergerac,” is an exciting alternative to beating the heat while enjoying yourself on these sultry humid nights. It is performed in English and Spanish on different evenings in Mary O’Malley Park, located on Chelsea’s waterfront.
Besides seeing a professional, classy production of Edmond Rostand’s 1897, five-act bittersweet tale (with each act beautifully staged in five different locations in the park), the audience can sit back, admire the serene sailboats and stately tankers, view the bridge from afar, enjoy balmy breezes gently wafting off the water, and watch the sun set and the moon rise --- all in a lovely setting.
Although Rostand wrote this tale of unrequited, undeclared love in verse more than 100 years ago, it resonates with audiences of all ages today, because of its swashbuckling action and duel fights, pre- and post-battle scenes, comedic moments of mistaken identity and tomfoolery, and tearful romantic scenes.
Cyrano de Bergerac pours out his heart to the love of his life, Roxane, heartrendingly pretending his newfound friend and Roxane’s beloved, Christian, has written his romantic messages. De Bergerac, a nobleman-cadet soldier who is an extraordinary duelist and poet, thinks he is incapable of being loved because of his huge, unsightly nose. Referring self-consciously to his nose, Cyrano says, “I’m one of those who wears his elegance within.”
He insults and gathers enemies with bravura while charming friends and audiences with his silver-edged words, which Rostand describes as “panache” --- a word he introduced into the English language. Cyrano is also fearless, reckless --- singlehandedly taking on 100 enemies by himself and living to relate his exploit to his friends in Act II.
There are several poignant scenes in each act: Cyrano’s duel in Act I; Christian’s comical attempt to speak for himself below Roxane’s balcony, then begging Cyrano to stand in the shadows and speak for him, in Act III; weary, battle-torn soldiers lying scattered on the ground, and Christian’s demise in Act IV; and Cyrano and Roxane’s declaration of love 15 years --- and too late --- in Act V.
Incidentally, Rostand’s play is based on the real Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac, a French dramatist-duelist, whose exploits were romanticized but exaggerated to create this thrilling tale. The real de Bergerac lived from 1619 to 1655 and had a large but not overly huge nose. As in the play, he fought in the battle of Arras and died later at age 36 from injuries he sustained from a falling beam of wood.
As always, Apollinaire director Danielle Fauteux Jacques delivers a snappy, spiffy production with precise timing, balancing comedy, romance, drama and adept physical activity, appealing to all ages. Despite moving four times (but always near or within the action), small children sat rapt, like their parents, savoring every scene.
This cast of 18 is talented, but Bryck, who performs as Cyrano in both English and Spanish, is outstanding, spouting his character’s fiery, insulting rhetoric and poetic, romantic gems with equal ease. Cyrano’s heartbreaking surrender of his love, Roxane (Kateri Chambers), and his promise to watch over her handsome but mundane-speaking lover, Christian, (Joseph Kidawski) while writing flowery words of love in Christian’s behalf, is touching. (Kidawski also skillfully choreographed all action-packed fight and duel scenes.)
Elisabetta Polito’s period costumes are gorgeous, with plumed large-brimmed hats, brocaded men’s jackets, and gowns with tight bustieres and flounced skirts .
Although the performance is free, after the show patrons are requested but not required to place nominal donations in baskets. It’s well worth it.
BOX INFO: Apollinaire Theatre Company of Chelsea presents Edmond Rostand’s two-hour, five-act play, starring Danny Bryck, performed in English and also in Spanish through July 31, Wednesday through Sunday, at 7:30 p.m., each act at five different sites in Mary O’Malley Park, Commandant’s Way, Admiral’s Hill, Chelsea. Performances in English are Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday; in Spanish, Friday and Sunday. There’s also a brief pre-show live music presentation. Bring chairs or blankets and, if desired, a picnic. For more information, visit www.apollinairetheatre.com or call 617-887-2336. If it rains, call ahead to check performance status