Cyrano de Bergnac

Citizen’s Theatre
Tramway – until September 22nd
4 Stars (4 / 5)

Cyrano has a way with words and a nose the size of Pinocchio’s. Blessed with wits he charms his way through life, but not into the heart of his tender love, Roxane. The shallow Roxane is enamored with the looks of the rather un-poetic Christian. The two suitors form a ruse to fuse themselves into the perfect suitor: Cyrano’s words, Christian’s visage. Cyrano is libertated to finally wax lyrical his true feelings, which so far he has had to hide, but with Christian as his mouth piece. This classic French tragedy was translated into Glaswegian vernacular (or “weegie”, as we prefer to call it) in 1992 by Edwin Morgan – and what a job he did. His poetry sings out into the heart of every language lover in the audience, and makes the nationalist swell with pride.

The translation, in itself a transcendent achievement, the execution itself would present a challenge. The tale’s complex twists and turns may already be hard enough to follow, but with the addition of Scots Tongue, some comprehensibility may be sacrificed for artistic grandeur. Leading man, Brian Ferguson, ensures that his diction is clear and his performance sensitive.

The play begins at its poorest with some discombobulating melodramatic material that seems to add nothing to the piece and could well have been cut for a strong beginning. However, once the play hits its stride, it volleys. The second act bests even the first, the climatic, tragic material (and we get two tragedies for the price of one) provokes pin-drop silence from the audience, and weeps from the tenderhearted. Perhaps the most enduring scene, though, is the fine moment when the savvy swordsman, Cyrano, is challenged to a duel to defend his honour, and promises strike his opponent dead on the final line of the fourth stanza of a poem he shall improvise while fighting – and succeeds. The deliciously choreographed fencing match makes full use of the stage and rostra. Senses delight at the fulfillment of Cyrano’s prophecy!