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Cyrano review at Ustinov Studio Bath

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Mind the Gap are now so confident of their role as a professional touring company for learning disabled actors that they are not afraid of gently sending themselves up.

For example, Edmond Rostand’s time-honoured romance Cyrano de Bergerac opens in a theatre and all five engaging actors in this production display true luvvie characteristics before getting down to business. They are not out to hide their regional roots as a Yorkshire-based company, with Roxane immediately following that classic French exclamation ‘sacre blue’ with a brazen ‘flippin’ heck’. They even manage to work in a contemporary reference to weapons of mass destruction.

The rapid-fire adaptation by Mike Kenny is written in pantomime-style rhyming couplets, often interchanged between cast members, and while this at times adds both to the fun and the pace of proceedings, it can also become rather tiresome. However, everyone works extremely hard to keep the familiar narrative on the move and, although there are obvious synergies between the play’s perceptions of inner and outer beauty and the disabilities of the cast, they are never over-emphasised.

Director Tim Wheeler makes excellent use of a revolve to stage some impressive sword fights and I also liked the use of Hans Christian Andersen’s Ugly Duckling song as incidental music. Among the players, Jez Colborne projects a personality as prominent as his proboscis in the title role; Donna Lavin is a sweet-natured, broad-accented Roxane; and Anna-Marie Heslop finds a great deal of fun as narrator, while also switching roles between Cyrano’s friend Rageneau and a rather knowing priest. Colborne is even bold enough to include in his programme CV the fact that he won the 2003 European Song Contest for Disabled Artists in Hamburg, a distinction he might well have been tempted to hide after Gemini’s infamous first-ever ‘nil point’ for the UK in the parent contest in Latvia. Altogether, another remarkable offering from Mind the Gap.

Production Information

Ustinov Studio, Bath, February 26-28 then touring

Edmond Rostand, adapted by Mike Kenny
Tim Wheeler
Mind the Gap
Cast includes
Alan Clay, Jez Colborne, Anna-Marie Heslop, Donna Lavin
Running time
1hr 30mins

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