Love and noses

Cyrano de Bergerac

“Smell ya later.”

“Smell ya later.”

Photo courtesy of Davis Shakespeare Ensemble

Cyrano de Bergerac; 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; $15-$25. Veterans Memorial Theatre, 203 E. 14th Street in Davis; (530) 802-0998; Through July 31.
Rated 4.0

Is there anything that Cyrano can’t do? With his sword, he can defeat anyone in a duel—or even rout 100 men. He’s fabulously, verbally inventive, composing ballads on the fly, ghostwriting gorgeous love letters. He gleefully tweaks the rich and powerful—and somehow gets away with it. In this well-crafted production by the Davis Shakespeare Ensemble, actor Matt Edwards and director Rob Salas bring a tangible sense of spontaneous fun to this show—as if Cyrano (who naturally dominates every scene) was improvising his feats on the spot, and enjoying himself immensely. The sensation is catchy.

There are strong supporting performances (including Kristi Webb as the beautiful Roxane, Tim Gaffaney as the black-clad baddie Comte de Guiche and Pablo Lopez as lover-boy Christian) from a cast of 17. Fight director Sydney Schwindt contributes lively swordplay, costumer Caitlin Cisek conjures a 1600’s look and composer Richard Chowenhill’s music (singing and instrumental) sets the right tone.

But any production of Cyrano ultimately hinges on the actor in the title role—and Edwards takes the audience on quite a ride. His Cyrano is supremely proud of his landmark nose (“Tis a rock! A peak! A cape! No, it’s a peninsula!”) but also wracked with fear that he’s too ugly for any woman to love. His independence and panache, and his passionate refusal to bow to the will of the powers that be, make him irresistible.

With abundant humor (verbal and physical), swashbuckling fights, tender courtship scenes and a touching finale, this jaunty summer festival show is a robust, five-scene theatrical banquet.