Theatre in Wales

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A good stab

Theatr na n'Og

Theatre Na n'Og- Cyrano , The Riverfront , November 19, 2008
Theatr na n'Og by Theatre Na n'Og- Cyrano The reviews of productions by Theatr na nÓg can be read below:

"Aesops Fables": 07 March 2012: 30 March 2012

"Angel": 13 October 2001

"The Bankrupt Bride": 20 October 2009: 18 October 2009

"Cyrano": 18 December 2008: 03 December 2008: 28 November 2008: 22 November 2008: 16 November 2008

"The Eye of the Storm": 28 October 2019

"Halen yn y Gwaed": 16 November 2005

"Me, A Giant!": 22 July 2005

"Melangell": 22 February 2005: 16 March 2005

"Nia Ben Aur" : 28 February 2003: 17 February 2003

"Nye & Jennie": 5 November 2018: 21 October 2018: 18 November 2017

"Painting with Light": 10 September 2003: 04 August 2003

"The Princess and the Hunter": 25 February 2005: 15 April 2006: 03 May 2006

"Salsa": September 5, 2011

"The Sinking of the Arandora Star": 29 September 2011

"Tom – A story of Tom Jones": 10 March 2016

"The Trial of Elgan Jones": 22 September 2006


Now in its twenty fifth year, under artistic director Geinor Styles Theatr na n’Og has gained a great reputation for its Neath-based Theatre in Education and community work, so it was with eager anticipation I booked my ticket at the very lively glass beacon of a modern theatre beside the Usk in Newport for this first, for them, ‘large’ scale production. The play has been touring since the last week in October, visiting The Greenwich Theatre, The Courtyard in Hereford and The Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury as well as most of the established venues in Wales.

The choice of this great, sweeping French tale of romance was ideal with Welsh writer Keiron Self adding a modern twist but to a large extent discarding the music and much of the poetry in Rostand’s original work. However Cyrano’s great panache (It is from this work we have taken the word into the English language) is still at the centre of the story.

Cyrano de Bergerac is a brash, strong-willed man of many talents. In addition to being a remarkable duellist, he is a gifted poet and musician. However, he has an extremely large nose, which is a target for his own self-doubt. This doubt prevents him from expressing his love for his distant cousin, the beautiful Roxanne, as he believes that his ugliness forbids him to "dream of being loved by even an ugly woman." This is an underlying dilemma that may well account for some of his rumbustious public behaviour.

The play opens in a theatre. Carl Davies’ design gives us the backs of stage scenery decorated in a way that easily lends itself to providing a convenient framework for all the scenes within the play. The beautiful Roxanne is there, played by Eleanor Howell looking appropriately beautiful in her seventeenth century robes. It’s no wonder so many men are in love with her: the scheming De Guiche, an elegant performance from David Prince, the fop Valvert, Cyrano himself and the hero of the piece, handsome but tongue-tied Christian de Neuvillette.

Well loved actor Phylip Harries bounces on to the stage in the guise of the over-the-top actor, Montfleury, giving Cyrano the first occasion to demonstrate his dominating powers. He throws the actor off the stage and his purse into the audience to compensate them for his curtailing of the performance. He then duels with and kills Valvert reducing the number of suitors he has to contend with. Now really emboldened, when Cyrano hears that another suitor has been told that hired thugs are waiting to ambush him, he defeats them all single handed.

This is stylistically staged and as with the similarly stage battle scenes only just manages to hang on to the verisimilitude, well maybe it doesn’t quite. This is a good stab at this absorbing play but mostly it misses, not being able to make its mind up whether it is an elegant Moliere style comedy or a pastiche of the same.

As a result of some of the names involved it is hard to tell whether this is a na nOg or a Mappa Mundi production. That’s a company that is now doing well after a few false starts. This is a very fine group of actors including Stephen Marzella, Mali Tudno Jones and Rob Lane, who, as Cyrano, takes far too long to die, who have all given brilliant performances in other work, which only indicates how difficult the fleeting ephemeral nature of theatre art is to capture. I’m sure they’ll do it next time.

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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