© Marc Brenner

Staged in a wooden box with an almost bare set bar a microphone stand. The cast are dressed in modern clothing including bomber jackets and Nike trackies, and they’re a diverse group with a range of British accents. You wouldn’t think you’re watching a play written in 1897…

Jamie Lloyd has recreated the classic play using rap, beatboxing and spoken word. This show first opened in 2019 (cry for what we all didn’t know was ahead of us then) at the Playhouse (now the Kit Kat Club that houses Cabaret). It’s now returned for a limited run at the Harold Pinter before travelling to Glasgow and New York. 

Leading the cast is James McAvoy, as Cyrano, the solider and excellent poet. Cyrano is said to have a large nose, but McAvoy doesn’t wear a prosthetic during this play, the large nose seems to exist only in his head – which highlights how Cyrano views himself and his self worth. It shows the difference of how we view ourselves vs how others view us.

© Marc Brenner

Cyrano is in love with his cousin Roxane (played by the brilliant Evelyn Miller), however he feels unable to tell her how he feels due to his nose. He believes that anyone would be repulsed by him. Roxane then mets and falls for Christian (Eben Figueiredo), who is very handsome but doesn’t have the talent for words that Cyrano possesses. Cyrano helps Christian to impress Roxane with poetry and letters. 

There’s one scene where Cyrano swaps places with Christian, and McAvoy dons Christian’s South London accent. It’s an intense scene, that demands the audiences complete attention. I think you could’ve heard a pin drop. 

McAvoy is pure magic, he excels in this role and makes it his own. Also, it’s mind blowing that McAvoy remembers all the words, there’s so many! 

This is one of the best plays I’ve ever seen. And it’s so different to anything else. It’s hard to imagine how a play that’s around 120 years old can be adapted for current times, but it works so well. There are themes within the show that will resonate with people from all generations. Although the play is around 3 hours long or just under, it’s pacing is great so it doesn’t feel too long at all.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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