The rapier wit of Cyrano de Bergerac!

“Only a hero, someone larger than life, can take us out of ordinary life and return us to it refreshed and invigorated.”

Edmond Rostand

Jamie McAvoy as Cyrano de Bergerac and Cast (Photo: Marc Brenner)

They talk about the power of three.  Three theatrical geniuses come together to make this new version of Cyrano de Bergerac one not to be missed.  After opening at the Playhouse in 2019, now the home of Cabaret,  this production returns, to the Harold Pinter, for a short run before going to Glasgow and BAM in New York. 

Firstly, credit must go to playwright Martin Crimp for his verse adaptation of the Edmond Rostand original.  It is witty and to the point and because it is in rhyming verse we can often finish the sentences for the players.  No one saw arsehole rhyming with castle coming!

Secondly, credit goes to the inspirational director Jamie Lloyd for bringing successful originality and charm to a classic story, casting it brilliantly and giving it emotional depth. 

And finally where would this production be without the acting skill of Jamie McAvoy?  I first saw him onstage in Out in the Open by Jonathan Harvey at Hampstead and at the Donmar Warehouse in Privates on Parade.  He was good then but his Cyrano has so much depth and humour incorporating that massive ego that comes with large noses.  It is remarkable that a French writer should equate a large nose with ugliness because we all know the reputed size of many French noses.  The Chinese call all Europeans “the big noses”.  It’s hard to believe that Gerard Depardieu needed a prosthetic proboscis! McAvoy has to act having a large nose.

Jamie McAvoy as Cyrano de Bergerac (Photo: Marc Brenner)

Edmond Rostand was a late 19th century playwright, a contemporary of Chekhov although his play is set in the 1640s when France was at war with Spain.  The play opens in a Parisian theatre and the characters are introduced.  Madame Ragueneau (a strong performance from Michele Austin) runs a pastry shop and teaches a class for poets. 

Cyrano is an expert duellist and at the theatre fights the Viscount Valvert (Nari Blair-Mangat), who the Count de Guiche (a sinister Tom Edden) wants to sham marry Roxane (Evelyn Miller).  De Guiche wants Roxane as his mistress.  Roxane and Cyrano meet at the coffee shop and Roxane says she is in love with Christian (Eben Figueiredo).  Although Roxane talks about the power of romantic language, it is Christian’s looks which have attracted her.

Jamie Lloyd’s production is in modern dress with a minimalist set and little colour.  Actors stand with microphone stands.  Cyrano is besotted with Roxane, whom he has known since childhood, and agrees to protect Christian in the army division and bizarrely ends up coaching Christian in the art of courting.  It is the first stage show where I remember a Beat Boxer (Vaneeka Dadhira) being used and the show has this rhythmic beat often using rap.  One scene has jousting using a skipping rope and rap.  It feels fresh and clever.  

Cyrano (there was a real Cyrano de Bergerac) is a natural rebel and the play criticises the system where the rich sponsor some writers in 17th century France.  Roxane is seduced by the power of words which Cyrano has fed to Christian and when Christian is unable to deliver spontaneity, Cyrano manages an imitation of Christian’s London accent.  So good!

Act Two is a serious affair with the war dead lining the stage, no man’s land and one of our characters will lose a life.  We have warmed to these French people and the fine acting has made us believe in their predicaments.  The final scene is full of pathos. It is a tragedy.  The whole production goes at a fast, exciting pace and almost three hours flies by with us wishing for more.   This is a five star production. 

Evelyn Miller as Roxanne (Photo: Marc Brenner)

Production Notes

Cyrano de Bergerac

Written by Edmond Rostand

In a new version by Martin Crimp

Directed by Jamie Lloyd



Jamie McAvoy

Michele Austin

Nari Blair-Mangat

Evelyn Miller

Adam Best

Sam Black

Adrian der Gregorian

Tom Edden

Eben Figueiredo

Carla Harrison-Hodge

Joseph Langdon

Sophie Mercell

Nima Taleghani

Brinsley Terence



Vaneeka Dadhria

Jon Furlong

Tazmyn-May Gebbett

Mika Onyx Johnson


Director: Jamie Lloyd

Designer:  Soutra Gilmour

Composers and Sound Design:  

Ben and Max Ringham

Fight Movement: Kate Waters

Additional Movement: Polly Bennett

Lighting Designer: Jon Clarke

Sound Designer: Tom Marshall


Running Time: Two hours 55 minutes with an interval

Booking to  12th March 2022


Harold Pinter

Panton Street

London SW1Y 4SW

Tube : Piccadilly Circus

Telephone: 03330 096 690




Theatre Royal Glasgow

18th to 26th March 2022

Book in Glasgow


Harvey Theatre BAM Brooklyn USA

5th April to 22nd May 2022

Book at BAM


Also streaming internationally

Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge

at the Harold Pinter Theatre

on 4th February 2022