James McAvoy in Cyrano De Bergerac

James McAvoy in ‘Cyrano De Bergerac’ – review round up

Fresh from his triumphant Broadway transfer of Betrayal, Jamie Lloyd’s production of Cyrano de Bergerac starring James McAvoy blazes into the Playhouse Theatre in London’s West End.

Now open to rave reviews, Lloyd’s take combined with Martin Crimp’s new adaptation of the 18th century oft revived play has been a revelation, such that it has been compared to Lyn Manuel Miranda’s smash-hit Hamilton.

James McAvoy gives a career defining performance in this inspired pared down revival, with an exceptional supporting cast including Anita-Joy Uwajeh as Roxanne and Eben Figueiredo as Christian.

Cyrano de Bergerac is booking until 29 February 2020 at the Playhouse Theatre, London.

Cyrano de Bergerac tickets now availble

Read a round up of reviews below:

The Independent ★★★★

“Jamie Lloyd goes for broke on the rap front in this characteristically inventive and sometimes piercingly perceptive production. James McAvoy – imparts the romantically excruciated hero with a vivid vehemence – and uses a new text by Martin Crimp that is diabolically wily. It is alive, too, to the ways in which the play’s competitive versifying is the equivalent of a present-day poetry slam.”

Paul Taylor

Daily Telegraph (paywall) ★★★★★

“James McAvoy proves a revelation in a super-smart stripped-back Cyrano that turns the play on its head and left me speechless with admiration.”

“The stage-magic lies in the musculature of the word-music he unleashes in a two-hour long work-out of lungs and larynx. Those ravishing verbals have been given a 21st century spin. The rhyming couplets have acquired a street-wise panache; rap-culture informs the rapier wit. An 18-strong cast – dressed-down in everyday gear – occupy a no-frills theatrical environment (exposed stage, wooden surrounds, plastic chairs). It’s like a performance poetry gig. They wield hand-held mics, beatbox too.”

“I defy anyone not to fall in love with it.”

Dominic Cavendish

Time Out ★★★★

“It’s Cyrano de Berger-rap. It’s James rap-Avoy. It’s… perhaps more accurate to say the rhythms of Martin Crimp’s new version of classic French play ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ are closer to the languid cadences of performance poetry than actual hip hop. But undoubtedly this is your first opportunity to listen to Mr Tumnus spitting verse.”

” It doesn’t have the euphoric effortlessness and virtuoso authenticity of ‘Hamilton’; but it’s not a million miles off, and the fact the two shows can even be discussed in the same breath is a testament to the fact that Lloyd and co have cooked up something pretty remarkable”

Andrzej Lukowski

The Times (paywall) ★★★★★

“The loner that James McAcoy reveals in this mesmerising West End production of Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play comes from another planet. In Martin Crimp’s glittering, rap-style version of the text, he mutters threats like a Glaswegian gangster, and squares up to his foes like a welterweight who keeps a flick-knife down his shorts, just in case. He is a thoroughly modern man with an absolutely normal nose.”

Marc Brenner

The Guardian ★★★★

“This is a Cyrano that dispenses with conventional spectacle, colourful costumes and visual flummery. Given that Rostand set out in 1897 to provide an antidote to naturalistic drama this may seem perverse. But Lloyd’s production makes you see an old play with fresh eyes and the opening image, in Soutra Gilmour’s stark design, of Cyrano staring fixedly at himself in a mirror, turns Rostand’s comedy into a study in physical and linguistic self-regard.”

Michael Billington

WhatsOnStage ★★★★★

“Jamie Lloyd’s new production, working from a free translation by Martin Crimp, is really something else: funny, thrilling and deeply moving.”

“McAvoy’s voice is like honey, drawing you in, his eyes flashing. He holds us, as well as Roxane, in the palm of his hand. The power of Crimp’s translation – funny, fluid, punchy, romantic – is that it makes you hear Cyrano’s dazzling charisma while simultaneously helping you understand that this play is not a simple love story but a rousing defence of words themselves, their power to change things, their role in a society’s freedom. This ties together the shift from the high comedy of the first act to the dark scenes of the second, where Cyrano and Christian are facing death.”

Sarah Crompton

The Stage ★★★★

“Words are everything in Jamie Lloyd’s stripped-down and shaken-up Cyrano. Martin Crimp’s adaptation plays fast and loose with Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play about a monumentally-nosed soldier-poet, trading Alexandrine verse for the rhythmic delivery of slam poetry”

“McAvoy, speaking for the most part in his Scottish accent, curls his tongue around the couplets, revelling in their rhythmic intricacy. Yes there are times when Lloyd’s production feels like it’s striving too hard to generate a hip, post-Hamilton vibe, but it tempers this with a sense of humour “

Natasha Tripney

Evening Standard ★★★★★

“James McAvoy gives a stunningly powerful performance in this piece of pure theatre, the most breathtakingly exciting show in London right now.”

“Lloyd’s production feels thrillingly reflective of contemporary London, yet also true to the Parisian original, and there is even a sly reference to ‘cultural appropriation’ to acknowledge its white creators’ use of street slang, hip-hop stylings and occasional beatboxing. Cyrano’s defining characteristic is panache, and oh boy, this production has it by the bucketload.””

Nick Curtis

Date: 10 December 2019
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