A giant nose won’t stop James McAvoy from happiness in the new production of Cyrano de Bergerac.
Fresh from having the living bejesus scared out of him in It: Chapter Two, James McAvoy has decided it’s time for something a little less terrifying. He’s taken the title role in Cyrano de Bergerac, Edmond Rostand’s stirring romance that’s famously recited entirely in verse. Mac’s Bergerac arrived in the West End in November – with tickets still on sale for the rest of the run – and it’s fair to say the critics are enjoying it.
Writing in The Stage, Natasha Tripney bestows four stars, praising “an exhilarating performance from the charismatic McAvoy” for anchoring Jamie Lloyd’s “stripped-down and shaken-up” interpretation. Nick Curtis is even more fulsome in the Evening Standard, calling Cyrano “the most breathtakingly exciting show in London right now”, and raving about everything from the ensemble (with particular praise for Anita-Joy Uwajeh’s Roxane and Eben Figueiredo’s Christian), to the “panache” of Martin Crimp’s updated text, and on to McAvoy’s “aggressive swagger […] and a bottomless anguish”.
Legendary Guardian critic Michael Billington – in one of his final reviews before retirement – found himself “totally captivated” by McAvoy, in a reimagining which “makes you see an old play with fresh eyes”. Finally, Time Out‘s Andrzej Lukowski is also converted to the radical, rap-battle style update of Rostand’s text, preaching that “Lloyd and Crimp have conjured up something pretty remarkable […] a ferociously good revival”.
Not bad, considering that Cyrano de Bergerac marks McAvoy’s first outing on the London stage since 2015’s The Ruling Class. It’s also a winning reunion with director Jamie Lloyd – himself on an excellent run with an acclaimed Pinter at the Pinter season and a wonderful revival of Evita – having previously teamed up on a well-received production of Macbeth in 2013.
For those not au fait with the plot, the play follows the (slightly sauced up) tale of real-life playwright, novelist, and noted duellist Cyrano de Bergerac. A gifted poet, a romantic and a fighter, Bergerac is nonetheless hampered by an unfortunately large nose, which is holding him back from winning the heart of his beloved Roxane. With a rival suitor on the horizon, Cyrano faces a race against time to write his way into Roxane’s affection, or face the prospect of a lovelorn future. As you might have guessed from the reviews, however, this isn’t a classic, camped-up production.
Winning hearts and minds shouldn’t be a problem for an actor who has a ‘Best Seduction’ award in his trophy cabinet, should it? Only one way to find out…
Featured image: @jamielloydco
Also published on Medium.