The Accidental Bromantic Love Story in Peter Dinklage’s off-Broadway CYRANO Musical
The Daryl Roth Theatre is playing a baffling musicalized Cyrano lead by Peter Dinklage of Game of Thrones.
Based on Edmond Rostand’s 1893 frequently-adapted play and directed by Erica Schmidt, this Cyrano sings up an atmospheric yet cluttery hot mess, with contemporary music by Aaron Dessner and Bryce Dessner and simplistic lyrics by Matt Berninger and Caron Besse. But through the fractured creative choices, there is no more heart than there is Cyrano’s relationship-rivalry with Christian (Blake Jenner), moreso than the central love story between a guy and a woman.
So here’s the love triangle. Cyrano loves Roxanne (Jasmine Cephas Jonas). But Roxanne confesses that she has fallen into love-at-first-sight with the handsome Christian, one of the soldiers in Cyrano’s infantry. Although jealous, Cyrano sets off to bring Christian and Roxanne together because he considers his nose too ugly for a woman to love. Christian, who is thrilled to learn that Roxanne loves him, is too nervous to write letters. So Cyrano enlists himself into penning Christian’s letters with flowering poetry so Christian can woo Roxanne — and Cyrano can find an outlet where he can confess his love to Roxanne without telling her directly.
But things get complicated when Roxanne meets Christian for herself and is disillusioned by his verbal simplicity. Christian and Cyrano’s ruse escalates into a Romeo-type “charm the lover while she’s at her balcony” sequence where Cyrano uses the night to cloak his appearance and feeds Christian some charming words, then Cyrano eventually masquerades as Christian.
At first, Cyrano’s protectiveness over Christian is merely conditional and he embraces and guides the young man out of love for Roxanne. But as the play (well, musical) progresses, Cyrano begins to stoke true fondness for Christian by the time they are on the battlefield. It helps that Dinklage shares sprightly bantery chemistry with Jenner as they have disagreements over how to make Roxanne happy and the ethics of the ruse. They’re fire and ice. Cyrano is as bitter as Christian is a bubbly principled optimist.
And Christian is the one who comes the closest to bringing the prideful Cyrano to his senses. Before he dies, he commands Cyrano to tell Roxanne about their letter-ruse and to allow her to choose for herself. Christian dies tragically, but he also lives and loves on his own terms, respecting Roxanne’s romantic agency and giving his friend some morale. And on the battlefield, Cyrano decides to avenge not only his honor, but his Christian.
You can see why 15 years later when Roxanne grasps the ruse, a dying Cyrano screams for Roxanne to love Christian, not him. It isn’t just insecurity over his assumption that Roxanne won’t love a man with an ugly nose. He’s not screaming on behalf of what he thinks is best for Christian. He genuinely finds Christian more deserving of her. He has witnessed how devoted Christian is. And, well, he has fallen for Christian.
Cyrano is running until December 22.