Cyrano de Bergerac
Le Festival d’Avignon

Reviewer's Rating

In Paris in 1640, the brilliant poet and swordsman Cyrano de Bergerac finds himself in love of his beautiful cousin Roxane. Despite his courage and the admiration aroused everywhere he goes, he refuses to declare his feelings for her because of his excessively large nose responsible for his ugliness. Yet he finds a way to express his love by becoming the writer of the letters that Roxane’s future husband, the beautiful but quite stupid Christian, sends to her.

When you enter the performance hall of the Espace Roseau to see this hugely known play, you are welcomed by a rap music background at the same time as you discover a firmly urban stage. A few minutes later, the play begins before anyone notices it immediately: the actors sit down in the audience to listen to and to comment on this first scene – which is by the way one of the wittiest scene of French theatre, but also one of the most difficult to stage! But this staging bias succeeds in making this skillful beginning more than comprehensible, and I directly enter the universe of this modern-day hero.

In this frankly modern version of the play, Cyrano de Bergerac becomes a rapper and the alexandrines, some punchlines. It results in beautiful moments of rap: I especially think to Cyrano’s famous tirade about his own nose and to what could be called the battle song of the Gascony cadets. Still what a shame that, in their enthusiasm, some of the actors sometimes slur their words, what makes this very versatile text hard to understand… But despite this, the performance gives rise to remarkable interpretations. Younès Boucif (Cyrano) and Marie Benati (Roxane) play two brilliant and touching young people in their own way, and the whole company shows beautiful collective moments. Thanks to the promising collectif chapitre treize to breathe a new life into this play more topical than ever.

Summary in French:
Cyrano, un jeune poète et mousquetaire brillant, est amoureux de sa belle cousine Roxane. Mais à cause de son nez démesurément long, il refuse de se déclarer… Le collectif chapitre treize nous propose une mise en scène résolument moderne de la célèbre pièce Cyrano de Bergerac. Ici, ce héros des temps modernes est un rappeur admiré de tous et l’alexandrin côtoie la punchline. Une proposition scénique forte, qui donne un souffle nouveau aux personnages et à la poétique d’Edmond Rostand.