REVIEW: Edmond de Bergerac at the Cambridge Arts - A whirlwind of set changes and brilliantly timed farcical comedy

Edmond de Bergerac comes to the Cambridge Arts Theatre from Tuesday 16 to Saturday 20 April.

Edmond de Bergerac comes to the Cambridge Arts Theatre from Tuesday 16 to Saturday 20 April. - Credit: Archant

It’s December 1897 and struggling playwright, Edmond Rostand, has run out of ideas for his next piece of work.

After meeting up with famous actor, Constant Coquelin, (Henry Goodman) the poet and father-of-two, finds himself in even more difficulty when he convinces Coquelin to star in a new play, which he has not even begun to write.

Edmond (Freddie Fox) embarks on his comedy after drawing inspiration from the failed romantic liaisons of his best friend Leo (Robin Morrissey) while juggling the demands of his jealous wife and the actors and theatre backers who have all lost faith in him.

So what we have now is the play, Cyrano de Bergerac, within our play, which sounds confusing, but is a delightful, fast-paced, farcical comedy with all the colour and romance of 19th century Paris that manages to conjure atmosphere and light up the stage.

The scenes that see Edmond attempting to help Leo woo his latest love interest Jeanne (Gina Bramhill) are hilarious with the help of some sharp writing and perfect comedy timing. There is one heart-stopping scene where we see Leo clinging onto a ladder and fall backwards to end up on his back on the stage, courtesy of his fellow actors who lower him precariously to the ground.

There is a lot of running around the stage, but it is slick, and stage sets are altered at a frantic pace which all adds to the chaotic underlying feeling we have that Edmond is on the clock and running out of time to finish his work.

This is an incredibly entertaining piece of work that had the audience laughing out loud and many were on their feet at the end.

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Special mention for Simon Gregor who had several roles, but his performances as the wardrobe master and receptionist were outstandingly funny. Also Chizzy Akudolu, who played Maria, was brilliant in her role as the diva actress.

The play was written by Alexis Michalik’s and more than 700 performances have been staged in Paris and translated by Jeremy Sands.

Edmond de Bergerac is at the Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, April 20. Tickets are available from the box office at: 01223 503333 or online at: