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Cyrano. videocassette. color. approx. 1:40 hrs
Globalstage. 1998. GR 5 Up--

Based on Edmond Rosland's French classic with an original script by Jo Roets, this play is performed by the theatre company Blauw Vier of Antwerp, Belgium. Filmed on location by he BBC, it succeeds not only as entertainment but also as an exploration of basic questions such as "How important is physical appearance?" and "How powerful are words?" The video opens as 11-year old Preston Blakeley and his "aunt," Professor Elizabeth McNamer stroll down the streets of Antwerp on the way to the theater. McNamer tells Preston about the culture and history of Antwerp, the life of Rostand, and the literary significance and themes of Cyrano. Once seated in the Theater, they are treated to a non-traditional performance of the play. Three talented actors-- two male and one female-- dressed in contemporary costumes and without make-up appear on a stage lighted by hanging fixtures and filled with what appears to be randomly placed junk. These objects turn out to be the sound effects devices which are operated by whichever actor is not involved in the action. The simulated sounds of the sword fights, battle noises, bird calls and the approach and departure of horses and people are reminiscent of an old-time radio program. Even though the audience is aware of the use of sound devices, the effect is no less dramatic. A beautiful and effective musical background is added occasionally. Voice disguises and changes in posture and demeanor allow the three actors to cover all the roles. As the play ends, the audience is shown applauding as the actors take their bows. Once outside the Theater, Preston and his "aunt" continue their tour of Antwerp as they discuss the themes of the play. After the credits have rolled, an unexpected afterward shows them back inside the theater as an actor demonstrates the workings of the sound effects devices. In addition to the video's value as quality family entertainment, it can be useful for acting classes of all ages as it demonstrates that good theater can be created out of virtually nothing when the powers of the imagination are unleashed.--Jerry Beth Shannon, Ropes I.S.D., Ropesville, TX

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