Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Cyrano de Bergerac (The SOB Review)

Cyrano de Bergerac (The SOB Review) - Richard Rodgers Theatre, New York, NY

*** (out of ****)

It's more than a little ironic that Kevin Kline as Cyrano de Bergerac should exclaim, "My success is only achieved by excess!"

For despite the ungainly prosthesis of the proboscis Kline dons in the title role -- and in spite of Jennifer Garner's completely over-the-top acting -- Kline firmly centers the show with his nuanced and understated performance that's breathtaking to behold. Seemingly without effort, he manages one of those rare spine-tingling feats of the stage that more than offsets all the other major issues I had with the show, ranging from Garner's considerable egregiously exaggerated excesses, as well as something downright tinny and hollow in David Van Tiegham's sound design.

Although I was familiar with Cyrano's story of unrequited love for his cousin Roxane (Garner) and how he aids the equally smitten yet tongue-tied Christian De Neuvillette (a rather benign Daniel Sunjata) express both of their love through written and spoken verse, this was my first time ever seeing Edmond Rostand's classic play performed.

I enjoyed it largely due to Kline's superb performance and Tom Pye's intoxicating stage design, as well as Gregory Gale's exquisite costume design and haunting illumination from Don Holder. If nothing else, it's a sumptuous feast for the eyes.

While David Leveaux's largely crisp direction makes this Anthony Burgess adaptation captivating enough -- he certainly motors the show along -- he doesn't seem to make equal demands of his cast. With the exception of Kline, Max Baker (animated as Ragueneaua, the pastry cook) and Euan Morton (pitch-perfect in his dual roles as Lignière and Théophraste Renaudot), the rest of the lot borders on the banal.

As Comte de Guiche, Chris Sarandon comes off as merely one-dimensional -- a villain in name only, incapable of stirring up any real passion. Despite his "pretty face," Sunjata never really shows much charm or comic panache required for the role.

And then there's Jennifer Garner, whose forced performance is so stultifying that you'd be forgiven for thinking she was deliberately trying to be bad. Each overblown gesticulation was upstaged by the type of reading akin to the parodies of the novice actor in a production of Shakespeare. Yes, she's a natural beauty, but it's a mystery why anyone would be attracted to her after she speaks.

But all of this is rather muted, curiously enough, whenever Kline takes to the stage to add his voice. And in the poignant final moments of the play when Garner finally seems in tune with Kline's marvelous cadences, electrifying chills swept through me. I was moved by the grace of two actors in concert -- at last -- with each other.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
Cyrano Critics Offer Thumbs Down By A Nose (November 2, 2007)
Opening Night By A Nose (November 1, 2007)
Cyrano On Broadway: In-Klined To Garner Success? (August 2, 2007)

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At 13 December, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that you're over acting when you speak about garner. And you're a bad actor surely, maybe you should learn to do reviews, too. (My prefered actress is Liv Ullman and I think that Garner was great).

At 13 December, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 13 December, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Ben, Thanks for the comments. I think you meant overreacting. Like you, I'm no actor.


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