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Theater review: 'Cyrano de Bergerac' at Ruskin Group Theatre

December 9, 2010 |  4:45 pm

Cyrano A tough loner fighting his way forward with fierce rhymes and an addiction to impossible odds. No, it’s not “8 Mile” but “Cyrano de Bergerac,” now in full swash and buckle at the Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica. In this sharp translation by Anthony Burgess, Rostand’s bittersweet 1897 romp about a man with a large appendage in the wrong place plays as a surprisingly modern portrait of male vulnerability. But director Rae Allen’s production delivers the material awfully straight, down to the plumed floppy hats and Tom Wilson’s fairy-tale painted set.    

Still, the show has a gallant Cyrano at its center, a deft and understated John Colella, as much at ease with the play’s rhythms as his Cyrano is riven by self-loathing. Olivia D’Abo (“The Wonder Years”) delivers an elegant and self-possessed Roxanne, a worthy object of desire but never merely an object. Even Mark Rimer, as a baker cum patron of the arts, brings an appealing buoyancy. It’s a rousing and good-natured production, yet you feel the company has been slightly let down by a lack of fresh theatrical vision. 

-- Charlotte Stoudt

“Cyrano de Bergerac.” Ruskin Group Theatre, 3000 Airport Road, Santa Monica. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. No performances Dec. 24, 25, 26 and 31 or Jan. 1 and 2. Ends Jan 23. $25. Contact: (310) 397-3244 or www.plays411.com/cyrano. Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes. 

Photo: On balcony, Toby Moore and Olivia D'Abo, underneath, John Colella. Credit: Michael Myers. 

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