An imagined sequel to Cyrano de Bergerac is brought to life in Madeleine Robin Known as Roxane
Written and directed by Grace Smith, the show fast forwards to two years after Cyrano’s death, focusing on how Roxane has been living and coping with the idea that everything she ever knew about her love for her husband, Christian, and her cousin, Cyrano, was perhaps not as it seemed.
Full disclosure here: I’ve neither fully read, nor seen a production of Cyrano de Bergerac (yes, yes, shame on me). While I was aware of the story’s gist before stepping into the theatre, I admittedly did a little Wikipedia surfing to refresh my memory on how the tale ends. While I think certain textual nuggets in this production might have been better understood if I had more intimate knowledge of the story, I don’t think I lost out on understanding any integral pieces with the basics that I did know.
lemonTree Creations Studio is a small venue, and based on Grace Smith’s staging -which was almost completely in the round – I think the use of space worked well. With only room enough for about 30 seats, the set was meant to be Roxane’s room at the convent and brought the audience immediately into her world.
It was interesting to watch Tennille Read’s Roxane interact with Alexandra Simpson’s dual role as chambermaid Sophie and Roxane’s initial love Christian. I was immediately drawn into Read’s interpretation of Roxane, enthralled by how she was able to bring a sense of genuineness in her portrayal. With the audience in such close quarters, I think it must not be easy to tone down the energy an actor might use on a larger stage without under doing it. Simpson’s Sophie was just endearing enough, although I think her transformation into Christian could have been a little bit stronger.
Smith’s writing is eloquent and bright, with plenty of great quips and phrases, delivered in a poetic form that isn’t overly simplistic nor unnecessarily flowery, however my date for the evening and I agreed that the show might’ve been maybe 20-30 minutes too long. Delving further into the idea of Roxane’s loneliness, living with the uncertainty of her own reality, and sentenced to hold down the fort of Rostand’s canonical tale as it’s told over and over, I think Smith and the team at Theatre Double Take have brought an interesting re-adaptation to life in a clear and entertaining way.
Photo of Alexandra Simpson and Tennille Read.