The glorious French farce that is Edmund de Bergerac had its press night at the Rep Birmingham last night, and it truly is a joy from start to finish. The story of the playwright Edmund Rostand, and the creation of the play that may be the most famous in French history is both hilariously funny and wonderfully uplifting. I totally loved it.
Edmund Rostand is a struggling poet who struggles to write prose, or indeed comedy. His mentor, the great Sarah Bernhardt sets up a meeting with the famous actor Constant Coquelin and he somehow manages to sell the idea of a play. The only problem is that the play has yet to be written and needs to be ready for an opening night in less than three weeks. Inspiration comes when Rostand’s friend, the actor Leo, enlists his help in wooing the beautiful Jeanne, Rostand helps by first speaking for him, flowery love speeches and poems, and then by writing letters. This three sided romance gives him the inspiration and back story for Cyrano. But with two goons as backers for the play, a the worst actor in Paris as the villain, a leading lady with more baggage than your average luggage carousel at an airport, and an increasingly suspicious wife, will the play ever be written in full and get to opening night?
The beauty of Edmund de Bergerac is that the whole cast look like they are having the most enormous fun in their (sometimes many) roles. Hilarious accents, classic farce like situations and some super one liners are all delivered with aplomb, whilst all the time Freddie Fox is superb, acting almost as a straight man as Rostand, whilst all around him is chaos and craziness. Chief amongst that craziness is the wonderful Chizzy Akudo as Maria, the leading lady and a total diva. Her appearance in the final scenes had me crying with laughter – all I will say is trap door! She is matched perfectly by Henry Goodman as Coquelin, the leading man bringing life to Cyrano whilst trying to fit in both a duel and a happy ending. He is, quite simply, sublime in the role. Josie Lawrence hams up Sarah Bernhardt beautifully, her timing is so good she is almost comically winking at the audience. The whole play is held together by Monsieur Honore, played perfectly by Delroy Atkinson and challenging prejudice that is oh so modern, along the way.
Beautifully written, expertly staged, and oh, so funny, Edmund de Bergerac is a must see.
Edmund de Bergerac
15 Mar 2019 – 30 Mar 19
Click here for ticket Information