CYRANO DE BERGERAC, Bog Theatre. To this day Edmond Rostand's 1898 Cyrano de Bergerac is a superhero epic to equal any Steven Spielberg spectacle. The title character is a man who can fence with one hundred opponents at once while composing a classic poem, then gallantly kiss the hand of an admiring servant girl afterward. Though his deformity makes him shy of the beautiful Roxana, he selflessly breaks his own heart to give her what she wants--the handsome but laconic Christian de Neuvillette.
With its five acts, full-scale battlefield clashes, and eloquent language, this is a play to daunt even seasoned thespians: the fledgling Bog Theatre may have bitten off more than it can chew--at this time, anyway. But the Anthony Burgess translation is smooth, rendering the dialogue more wieldy than it is in Brian Hooker's 1928 script, and as Cyrano, Martin Bedoian is suitably heroic, with the articulation of a troubadour and the stamina of a racehorse. Danny Robles's inventive fight choreography contributes more than the requisite swashbuckling. But the staggering length of the production--three hours with two intermissions--and the tunnel-like acoustics of the auditorium (a former Masonic temple in Des Plaines) rob the play of most of its grace notes. And a plethora of amateurisms--badly aimed lights, a Comte de Guiche in powdered wig and wire-rimmed glasses, consistent mispronunciation of the word "capuchin"--give the show the look and sound of a student production, though better than average. It's no disgrace to stumble under so heavy a load as Rostand imposes.