courtesy CSF/Jennifer Koskinen

by Beki Pineda

CYRANO de BERGERAC – Written by Edmond Rostand (translated by Anthony Burgess); Directed by Christopher DuVal. Produced by the Colorado Shakespeare Festival (presented in the Mary Rippon Theatre on the CU campus) through August 11. Tickets available at 303-492-8008 or cupresents.org.

There is nothing that works better on the large outdoor Rippon Theatre than a sweeping epic – a grandiose tale told with lots of buckles to swash and battles to fight. Remembering earlier productions of the War of Roses saga and battles being fought through swirls of fog and sounds of war echoing through the space. So what fun to see the grandiose tale of the master of panache, Cyrano himself, being played out in a space that seemed worthy of the story to be told.

courtesy CSF/Jennifer Koskinen

Cyrano is a creature of hidden desires and fears. His unfortunate nose is . . . large – although he would berate me for using such a paltry word to describe it. Because of this visible “defect,” he has grown defensive and seemingly arrogant to hide his fear of rejection. You can’t reject him if he rejects and belittles you first. Unable to change his outer appearance, he has turned inward and created an intellect and grace under fire second to none  But his most secret desire is his love for Roxanne, a childhood playmate now grown to beauty; his most secret fear is that she will never be able to look beyond his physical appearance. She proves him right when she professes her attraction to Christian, a member of the King’s Guard, who is handsome but whom Cyrano knows is shallow. To make her dream of a handsome AND articulate suitor come true, he becomes Christian’s voice in verse and letter. A greater love hath no man.

The men of the company rise to the challenge of creating a culture of arrogance and elegance mixed in with a little buffoonery. The characters are either the fighting soldiers, brave, true and loyal – or – they are the ones being belittled by those same soldiers  A strong division is made between the men who earn a living and those who have status only by their titles. The same actors are sometimes tasked to play both. They are all, however, gifted in sword-fighting and stage combat and lend a great deal of excitement and a sense of danger to the battle scenes and personal duels.

Scott Coopwood returns for his second season with the Shakes, bringing the character of Cyrano to elegant life. His personal style is understated grace; on him, even a prominent protuberance seems stylish. While seeming at times a little rushed (I wanted to be able to savor each word), his delivery of complicated speeches expressing complicated emotions was flawless. While the evening certainly belongs to him, he was ably abetted by Matthew Schneck as his friend Le Bret and Michael Bouchard as the baker Ragueneau. Brynn Tucker made a beautiful but demanding Roxanne; her tongue-tied lover was a sweet Marco Robinson.

The kids in the audience may have had some trouble following all of Rostand’s grandiose language, but they were certainly enjoying the clowning and sword fights. As well as the adults. A beautiful way to spend a summer’s evening.

A WOW factor of 8.5!!