18 Sep 2019
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What is Cyrano De Bergerac about?

Any fan of London theatre must be aware of the buzz surrounding Cyrano De Bergerac, which is opening in November at the Playhouse Theatre starring that darling of film and TV – James McAvoy. While the star is a household name, the play itself may be somewhat less familiar, so what, exactly, is Cyrano De Bergerac about?

Cyrano De Bergerac was written in 1897 by French dramatist and poet, Edmond Rostand. Written entirely in verse (rhyming couplets, to be specific) this play tells the story of titular hero Hercule Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac and his romance-by-proxy of the beautiful Roxanne (who happens to be his cousin, because it was the olden days). Cyrano is a dashing figure; a skilled swordsman, a gifted poet and a talented musician. However, he has one flaw that greatly hampers his romantic confidence – a remarkably large nose.

James McAvoy in Cyrano De Bergerac at the Playhouse Theatre, London
James McAvoy will star in this highly anticipated adaptation of Cyrano De Bergerac at the Playhouse Theatre in London

Despite his sizable snoot, Cyrano is a cocky and sharp-tongued wit who often finds himself in trouble with the nobility that he insults. Over the course of several misadventures, Cyrano finds himself helping the handsome but somewhat dim-witted Christian to woo his beloved Roxanne. Cyrano helps Christian by writing love letters signed in his name to Roxanne. Cyrano’s poetic prowess leaves Roxanne smitten with Christian – and completely unaware that these letters actually represent Cyrano’s true feelings for her.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because the tale of Cyrano De Bergerac has been hugely influential on popular culture. A host of film versions have been released over the years and the story has been adapted into a variety of different settings and time periods. The most famous example is the popular 1987 romantic comedy Roxanne, starring Steve Martin and Daryl Hannah. This film is a modern retelling in which Martin’s big-nosed C.D. Bales writes romantic poetry to Hannah’s titular Roxanne, convincing her it is actually written by her swarthy but not-so-smart admirer Chris, played by Rick Russovich.

The production coming to the Playhouse in November is adapted by Martin Crimp (When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other) and directed by Jamie Lloyd, who directed James McAvoy in an Olivier Nominated production of Macbeth at Trafalgar Studios in 2013.

Cyrano De Bergerac is shaping up to be one of 2019’s biggest West End plays, put together by an all-star team and starring one of today’s most dominant figures of stage and screen. Tickets for this limited run are available now, so click the link at the top right of this page to book yours.

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