Cyrano de Bergerac

London’s Jamie Lloyd Company has brought an absolutely electrifying production of this timeless classic to BAM. In a new version by playwright Martin Crimp, the production bubbles and seethes with raw energy, breathless intensity and imaginative verbiage all lead by cast members James McAvoy as the title character and the luminous Evelyn Miller as Roxane.

The dialogue and action is a dizzying combination of slam poetry effects, spoken word, raps and rhymes and unbridled physicality.

The dense language is gorgeous in its composition and does require undivided attention as words leap around from explosive exclamations to the gentlest exchanges during hushed, tender moments. Rhythm and breath work are key here and they have mastered them.

It’s an exciting show to watch and unpredictable in its journey. Despite familiarity with the story, there are twists and turns (not only in phraseology) that leave you wondering in anticipation about what will happen next.

Photo by Marc Brenner/The New York Times

The show is potent and entertaining. But it is the cast that so wholeheartedly commits to the constructs of the show that is most impressive. It’s easy to see the actors are not only enjoying themselves but the earnest performances show a deep respect for this classic material cleverly reimagined for a contemporary audience. There is something for everyone in this show and it doesn’t shy away from exploring a number of themes and appealing to younger audience members as well.

At three hours running time, it is an indulgent theatre experience and coming out of the pandemic, such a production is welcome and exciting. And the Harvey Theater provides the perfect backdrop with its distressed interior and unvarnished appeal as the set itself is nothing more than a plywood box with various risers, a funhouse mirror and, of course, many mics at hand to deliver the story.

And, unexpectedly, I craved a lemon tart after the show (you’ll know why should you see it).

Cyrano de Bergerac currently runs at BAM’s Harvey Theater through May 22.