“The Cyrano Project” Chronicles the Most Friend-Zoned Man in History

Despite being written over one hundred years ago, the classic tale of Cyrano de Bergerac speaks to today’s audience. In this adaptation of the play (adapted by Jo Roet for the SOU Department of Performing Arts) a line describes the show’s protagonist as “the most delightful man under the sun”.  An equally accurate description would be, “the most friend-zoned man under the sun”.

The story takes place in Paris, in the year 1640. A poet and swashbuckler named Cyrano de Bergerac falls in love with the sophisticated and beautiful Roxanne, but he lacks the confidence to reveal his feelings due to his unseemingly large nose. In an interesting set of circumstances, Cyrano quickly becomes the greatest wingman in history.

The theatre crew took a minimalistic approach to “Cyrano”. Instead of focusing on elaborate sets or props, they focused on imagination and whimsy. For the most part, it worked really well. For example, in one scene there is a magnificent duel. The characters used imaginary swords, but every swoosh and clang resounded perfectly. The audience could not be more convinced of the battle if real iron was used. Elements like this were used frequently, and only a few came off as cheesy.

In a whimsical spirit, the whole play seemed to be leaning on the fourth wall. The apparent stage director was an active part of the play, and the entire opening sequence took place before the “actual show” started. Having people act as props also factored into this.

Of course, “The Cyrano Project” would not be complete without the usual positive traits. The cast was excellent, the story was engaging, and the stage direction was spot on. In particular, Scott Key’s voice as Cyrano stole the show.

In terms of what the play is about, your mileage may vary. Ultimately, it is about honor and valuing what truly matters in a person. But I feel that younger audiences, particularly the college crowd, will connect more with Cyrano’s residence in the friend-zone, and his approach to being there.  Be warned, “The Cyrano Project” is not a sappy romantic comedy. It is a whimsical approach to the darker side of the human condition.

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