Cyrano de Bergerac (Chicago Shakespeare Theater): This Nose is too Long

Cyrano de Bergerac (Chicago Shakespeare Theater):  This Nose is too Long

Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents CYRANO de BERGERAC.

Cyrano is a legendary character who woos with his words.  Edmond Rostand wrote the tale of a big-nosed man who seduced a woman with his eloquent wit and passion.  Anthony Burgess translated and adapted the poetic prose for an American audience.  This play is all about the skillful use of words.  And  in Chicago Shakespeare’s current production, the play can be summed up in one word:  ‘long.’

After the popular success of “The Madness of George III”,  the highly anticipated reunion of Director Penny Metropulos and Jeff Award-winning Actor Harry Groener (Cyrano) is a nose out of joint.  A skillful Groener uses animated comedic timing to provide laughs during his plethora of monologues.  His sparks of charisma are not lively enough to keep this play from wallowing in pontification.  At first, Groener amuses the audience with his droll rhetoric.  Later, Groener’s lengthy narrations become increasingly duller as the play drags on.

I’ve always had a bit of issue with the heart of this story.  Roxanne begs her fella to tell her how wonderful she is.  It’s more than a little self absorbed.  I’ve seen actors overcome the narcissistic element for a romantic, innocent portrayal.  Julie Jesneck (Roxanne) comes off aloof and spoiled.  Even when the truth is tragically revealed, an unsympathetic Jesneck is more pissed than distraught.  Her performance leaves the audience relieved for the unrequited love.

Metropulos‘ overall direction is slow-paced.  She takes her time setting up the scenes.  Even potential action oriented scenes become mere backdrop to the ongoing lecture circuit.  The continual addresses are delivered in such a slow cadence that my audience mates are lulled into intermittent slumber.  Chicago Shake’s CYRANO de BERGERAC is indeed a sleepy production.

If I had to do it all over again, I would still want to see Harry Groener perform this role.  I would just choose a matinee or the Saturday evening show.  During the work week, it’s a prescription for a sleep aid.  The lengthy narration does not require or keep my full attention.  Although Costume Designer Susan E. Mickey dresses the large ensemble in stunning Renaissance finery, the visual is overwhelmed by the audio.  And it’s hard to listen to the stagnant content especially after a full day of work.

Running Time:  Three hours and fifteen minutes includes an intermission

At Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand

Written by Edmond Rostand

Adapted and translated by Anthony Burgess

Directed by Penny Metropulos

Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays at 7:30pm

Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm

Wednesdays at 1pm

Sundays at 2 pm

Thru November 2nd

Buy Tickets at www.ChicagoShakes.com

Production photo courtesy of Liz Lauren

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