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  • Guy van Egmond

Review: The Cyranoid

Updated: Feb 20

A tale as old as time: men can’t talk to women…

Picture credit: Phoebe Robertson

Words by: Guy van Egmond (he/him)

Turning a five-act verse drama from 19th-century France into a digestible, Bridgerton-era story would be daunting for any theatre company, let alone one that grew from a class of undergrads. But you cannot say they didn’t give it a damn good try. It was wonderful to see a bigger ensemble cast at a Fringe show, with real energy and aspiration; their concept of swashbuckling steampunk poets, fighting with steel and sonnets alike, was truly delightful. Ultimately though, when it came to putting on a well-polished show, The Cyranoid was tarnished by its overambition. 

The play was a fair adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, albeit quite condensed. The story followed Cyrano—decorated war hero and wordsmith—who the world has deemed disfigured and thus unworthy of Roxane, the woman he loves (thankfully, this adaptation did skip the bit where she’s his cousin). Squarely in the friendzone, Cyrano ends up ghostwriting love letters to Roxane for Christian, a pretty-boy soldier who lacks the wit to woo her. The Cyranoid gets the gist of all that, as well as cramming in at least seven songs, four other love affairs, three different accents and too many crude one-liners. Not to mention the Franco-Spanish War and the French Revolution (which inexplicably happened at the same time?) and an uncomfy amount of shock comedy based on queer sex and kink. 

In all its ambition, the play gave itself no time to sit with its own story; almost no one had space to grow or develop. It reduced everyone to mere stock characters, making most scenes feel very melodramatic. That said, characters who could flex and mature a little, such as Ethan Cranefield’s Christian, stood out immediately. He served as a strong anchor to every scene he was in. Roxane and Cyrano (Ava O’Brien and Alex Quinn) rounded out a strong trio of leads, with nice flashes of chemistry and strong delivery. 

However, the delivery of lines very often served to muddy the already murky waters of the plot. Many lines were swallowed by the backstage shadows, as actors turned away from their audience. Though almost everyone seemed to be mic’d up, this only caused more problems, as dialogue was lost to bumps, crackles and poor mixing. Most disruptive however, were the French accents that some characters put on. Clearly an over-the-top comedic bit, they were thick to the point of unintelligibility. 

That said, when we could catch them, the moments of fourth-wall and TikTok comedy got a hearty cackle from the whole audience (this reviewer loved the nod to ‘Roxanne’ by The Police). The show absolutely did pull through at some points, including the original music by Nate Smyth, Teddy O’Neill’s consistently good lighting design, and Alanah Munn’s incredibly fun and romantic costume work—not to mention her wahine toa Captain le Bret, who was a strong supporting character.  

The Cyranoid certainly bit off more than it could chew, when it came to scope and execution. That said, the joy coming off that stage was truly palpable; everyone brought an incredible passion and energy to the show. Though its time at Fringe has by now come to a close, I hope that Les Mécaniques stick around. I think they had the bones of a really fun show, and perhaps one day they might revive its ticking heart. I’d check it out again if they did. 


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