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Cyrano de Bergerac review at Theatre Clwyd, Mold – ‘beautifully acted’

Sara Lloyd-Gregory in Cyrano de Bergerac at Theatr Clwyd, Mold. Photo: Pete Le May Sara Lloyd-Gregory in Cyrano de Bergerac at Theatr Clwyd, Mold. Photo: Pete Le May
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After the recent all-female adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s historical romance at Southwark Playhouse, guest director Phillip Breen’s production, with an all-Welsh cast led by Steffan Rhodri’s heroic big-nosed Cyrano, may appear to be minding the conventional gender gap. This compelling version tells the ever-popular verse-drama like it always was, without ever overloading the narrative with conceptual conceits. Nevertheless, the introduction of Twym Mory’s Welsh language poetry and brief moments of gorgeous choral singing emphasise the play’s rich lyrical qualities.

Breen, who trained at Theatr Clwyd under the Regional Young Director Scheme, is clearly in his directing element here. His confident staging employs the entire epic sweep of the Anthony Hopkins Theatre space, driving Anthony Burgess’ fluid translation to the max on Mark Bailey’s sparsely dressed set, where huge chandeliers cast a moody candle-lit glow over a swashbuckling world of war-time romantic liaisons.

As Cyrano, Rhodri wears a prosthetic Pinocchio-size proboscis with panache, looking every inch the rebel poet-soldier with a beautiful soul and an ugly face while ensuring that the most famous physical feature in European drama apart from Richard III’s hunch never gets in the way of moments of tender versifying, which he delivers with a painfully raw pin-drop intensity.

The central triangular relationship with Sara-Lloyd Gregory’s moonstruck Roxane, who mistakenly believes that Cyrano’s eloquent missives are penned by Marc Rhys’ verbally challenged Christian, is equally touching. The ensemble cast are on their mettle too, including Steven Elliott providing cold-hearted gravitas as the devious Comte and Rhys Parry Jones as the humble pastry cook with a bardic bent.

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Powerful, beautifully acted production that waxes lyrical in all the right places