Great Performances: Season 37, Episode 8

Cyrano de Bergerac (8 Jan. 2009)

TV Episode  -   -  Biography | Drama | Music
8.0
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Reviews: 2 user | 2 critic

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Title: Cyrano de Bergerac (08 Jan 2009)

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Episode credited cast:
...
Stephen Balantzian ...
Gascony Cadet
Tom Bloom ...
Keith Eric Chappelle ...
Guard
Maclntyre Dixon ...
Capuchin / Jodelet / Gascony Cadet
Davis Duffield ...
Theatregoer's Son
Amefika El-Amin ...
Gascony Cadet
Peter J. Fernandez ...
Captain Carbon de Castel-Jaloux (as Peter Jay Fernandez)
...
Kate Guyton ...
A Food Seller
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Sister Claire
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Piter Marek ...
Marquis de Brissaille
Euan Morton ...
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8 January 2009 (USA)  »

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Japan broadcast earlier than US. See more »

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Lighting equipment can be seen when the camera pans to stage left at roughly an hour and forty-five minutes in, at the siege of Arras. See more »

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Version of Cyrano de Bergerac (1923) See more »

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Unfortunate casting results in a somewhat lackluster production
13 January 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

My first response to the character of Cyrano de Bergerac in this version of the play was, "what a jerk." He just seems like a terrible bully. This wasn't my response to the Jose Ferrer movie, but it's my response now, although I'm not sure how much of that has to do with Kline's performance and how much has to do with how my attitudes have changed since I was in college.

I'll get back to Kline, but first I have to speak of Jennifer Garner's off kilter performance.

I understand the temptation to put a more modern spin on an old play, and turn demur heroines into feisty fireballs, but Garner's performance feels far more appropriate to a production of Annie Get Your Gun than to Cyrano. The problem is that Garner's Roxanne is so brash and brassy that she seems neither like someone who would be admired by every courtly man she met nor like someone who would prize elegant prose; she seems more like someone who would judge a man's appeal by his skills in shootin' and wrastlin'.

It is ideal for the audience to fall in love with Roxanne; I never even liked her much.

As for Kline, his performance lacks the grand sweep of Ferrer's. He is a very low key Cyrano, and while once again it is understandable to want to play with a character's traditional representation, it just doesn't work. I think this is why he seems like such a bully at the beginning. By underplaying the part, he doesn't sweep you up in his grandiosity and wit. Cyrano needs to be so much bigger than life that he seems justifiably unbound by convention.

I think ultimately Cyrano de Bergerac is not a play that lends itself to revisionist performances. You can play Shakespearean characters many different ways because there is always an ambiguity to the characters; you can endlessly debate purpose and motive. Rostand's play is very straightforward - it's little more than an excuse for a lot of clever dialog - and the characters are not deeply drawn enough to warrant trying to make them anything other than their surface appearance. And a production of the play in which Roxanne is a stronger, more masculine force than Cyrano simply cannot work.

That being said, it's still a well written play with a lot of of witty dialog and an engaging story, so it is still reasonably enjoyable. And for all my objections, the ending was quite touching. But this could have been so much better.


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