Dundee Rep, Fri 19 & Sat 20 Oct
Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac is not obvious source material for a children’s show. Yes, the big nose is funny, but the story is shot through with brutal death and a mean streak of self-loathing; the villain ends up flourishing while the good guys suffer a variety of unhappy endings. More credit to Catherine Wheels, then, for producing this defiantly un-Disneyfied adaptation, a formidable weapon in their touring arsenal since 2004. This Cyrano is a glittering juggling act of witty dialogue, whirring, fast-paced and beautifully choreographed movement and enormous emotional resonance. All extraneous matter has been whittled down to a simply-structured love story, played out by three actors on the sort of sparse set that forces the audience to imagine with them.
Ronnie Simon is a warm, avuncular Cyrano, and generous with his spotlight: Jimmy Harrison manages to elicit sympathy, delighted giggling and a fair few sniffles as the hunky, gorm-free Christian, despite playing almost every other incidental character (including the villainous de Guiche) too. But it’s Veronica Leer’s adored, adorable Roxanne who walks off with the play – mugging and winking gleefully along with the kids, but ferociously brave and more than able to sustain the emotional punch of the heart-rending ending.