Play about creation of Cyrano de Bergerac takes Paris by storm

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A play about how French dramatist Edmond Rostand created the hugely popular tale Cyrano de Bergerac in 1897 has in turn become one of the most successful productions in France of modern times, performed since 2016 more than 1,000 times to a total audience of about 750,000.

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A play-within-a-play, in the style of Shakespeare in Love and about how French dramatist Edmond Rostand wrote the classic work Cyrano de Bergerac in the late 19th-century, has become the toast of Paris theatre, reports BBC News.

The play, Edmond, is now one of the most successful French productions of modern times.

French newspaper Le Monde called it "not so much a success as a triumph" – just like the play on which it is itself based.

Written by 36-year-old Alexis Michalik, Edmond tells of the creation and triumphant first performance of another play: the classic drama Cyrano de Bergerac, about a lovelorn, long-nosed swashbuckler.

It is named after Edmond Rostand, the dramatist who wrote the original in 1897.

After opening in September 2016 in the historic Théâtre du Palais Royal, Edmond has been performed more than 1,000 times to about 750,000 spectators. Advance bookings assure it will run for at least another year.

And now Michalik – whose mother is from Lytham St Annes in Lancashire – has two more feathers to his cap.

His film version of Edmond has come out to critical acclaim in France, and in the UK the play gets its first outing at the Birmingham Rep in March, starring Freddie Fox and Josie Lawrence.

Michalik's play is inspired by Shakespeare in Love – the 1998 film which created an imaginary back story to the writing of Romeo and Juliet.

In Edmond, we see Rostand – like Shakespeare – desperately seeking ideas for a play he must write in three weeks. He helps a tongue-tied friend to compose letters to his sweetheart, and this gives him the central theme of a romantic hero who hides his own love behind another's.

"When I saw Shakespeare in Love I knew I wanted to do something similar, but with a French playwright. The question was, who?" Michalik told BBC News.

"And then I read about the first night of Cyrano - how everyone thought it was going to be a flop, including Rostand himself! And how on that first night it was the wildest success imaginable - and I knew I had my subject."

Though written at the end of the 19th century, Cyrano de Bergerac is set in the 1640s.

The title character is a romantic musketeer disfigured by a huge nose, who conceals his love for the beautiful Roxanne up until the last fatal scene. An instant classic, it has gone on to be the most-performed French play of all time.

Read more of this report from BBC News.

 

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