"a classic, sophisticated, theatrical comedy"
by Debra Hall for remotegoat on 22/03/19

Just before the turn of the last century, Poet and Dramatist, Edmond Rostand used a man named Cyrano (a known French Nobleman of the 17th century) as a template to write his famous romance play Cyrano De Bergerac. The story was based on two things mostly: Cyrano’s sword fighting duels and for having an exceptionally large nose!

EDMOND De Bergerac premiered at Birmingham Repertory Theatre on 15 March 2019. Its writer, French actor, author and director, Alexis Michalik, has placed Edmond Rostand as the centre-pin character and presents us with a background story attached to Rostand's life, in particular Rostand's struggles and his inspirations in regard to the creation of his classic, unrequited love themed play.

Michalik however, bases his story on the lameness and chaos that Rostand experiences in the lead up to Cyrano De Bergerac being written and being performed for the first time on a Parisian stage 1897. We witness Rostand being forced to agree to certain unscrupulous terms attached to putting on its first ever stage production. Its financial backing is questionable for example, and members of the cast were not of Rostand’s choosing though he is pretty much powerless to make changes. Michalik reveals the humorous side of these situations.

This is a carefully scripted piece, with all its complexities in taking an existing and famed body of work and making it ‘feature only’ in a new story. It has resulted in a sophisticated, theatrical comedy.

As is obviously intended, Freddie Fox presents Rostand in a constant state of exasperation. Fox’s 'ruffled' and hot-foot performance is demanding as there are few scenes where his character doesn’t appear. All other players have key characters pinned to their name plus are members of the ensemble. Shakespearean, Film and TV actor, Henry Goodman is cast as the first person to ever play Cyrano, a French actor called Constant Coquelin. Goodman delivers with professional ease, and with sensibility and humour.

Characters include: The vivacious Jeanne, but Maria is the Diva. Monsieur Honore is a full-on motivator, whereas the two smoking and drinking backers are suspicious. There's a star struck receptionist, a writer of farces and a long suffering wife.

Actors: are an exceptional group of perfectly cast members who share the stage for this fine production; unfortunately too many superlatives to mention in this short review. Reviewer, however, having been in attendance at past stage comedy productions at The Rep, thought it great to witness the subtle comedic brilliance once again of Robin Morrissey (The Government Inspector) and Harry Kershaw (Peter Pan Goes Wrong) - and the wonderful, all-round performance of Josie Lawrence (Amédée).

Note: there is a movie version of Edmond De Bergerac (simply titled Edmond) released 2018.

The stage play Edmond De Bergerac is showing at Birmingham Repertory Theatre until 30th March 2019.

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