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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Strong Cyrano

Theater Review

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   Outdoor theater has a strange kind of life when seen by a small audience in an intimate setting. It’s this sense of intimate immediacy that gives Door Shakespeare its charm. It may lack the funding found in other summer stock, but makes up for it in depth of performance. The company’s production of Cyrano de Bergerac, Edmond Rostand’s tale of love and valor, resonates beautifully even if it suffers from lack of breadth.

  A charming, romantic fellow whose appearance keeps him from being romantic with a woman, Cyrano is very popular with everyone he comes into contact with. The problem with the Door Shakespeare’s production is that the crowd scenes never seem to capture Cyrano’s universal charm. The reason for this is hard to pinpoint. It could be the crowd’s performance, though the actors never lack for enthusiasm. It could also be the relatively small size of the crowd, but with a cast of 30-plus this seems unlikely. More than likely, crowds just don’t seem as impressive in an outdoor environment as they do indoors.

  Crowd dynamics aside, the performances seemed pretty balanced between the impressive and unimpressive. One of half a dozen Equity actors in the production, Jerry Gomis stars in the title role, exhibiting a scrappy determination that is nonetheless quite deft and poised. There’s a strength in Gomis’ performance that starkly contrasts with Lee Ernst’s equally impressive, though considerably less robust performance in the same role with the Milwaukee Rep last season.

  Saren Nofs-Snyder seemed quite adequate in the role of the play’s central love interest, Roxanne, but there seemed to be something missing. The character’s inner strength is rarely present onstage. Nofs-Snyder’s strength seems much more dynamic, which places her at odds with the nature of the character. She does an admirable job of trying to make her part work, but lacks the kind of experience that would’ve allowed her to blend into her role more. However her chemistry with Gomis’ Cyrano is captivating enough to overshadow any other shortcomings.

Door Shakespeare’s production of Cyrano runs through August 24.

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