The Cyranoid

Te Auaha, Tapere Nui, 65 Dixon Street, Te Aro, Wellington

16/02/2024 - 18/02/2024

NZ Fringe Festival 2024

Production Details

Co-Director, Musical Director/Composer: Nate Smyth
Music Producer: Andre Moffat
Co-Director and Dramaturg: Nicola Hyland
Choreographer: Fynn Rees
Script was adapted by the class of THEA301 at Te Herenga Waka in 2023.

Les Mécaniques

‘The Cyranoid’ is the fantastical tragicomedy Fringe debut by co-directors Nate Smyth and Nicola Hyland, with original music composed by Nate Smyth. It is a quirky, new adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’, with the added touch of Cyborgs and ORIGINAL musical numbers!

In an alternate 17th Century France, a group of human-robotic hybrids known as ‘The Mechanicals’ have been subjugated by the upper class and the government. Cyrano, an excellent poet, duellist, and the strangest of all Mechanicals, holds a curious rhythmic impediment – a clockwork heart that cannot bear the strains of love. Cyrano meets Christian, a brave human soldier, fresh to Paris. Cyrano’s childhood friend, and secret love, Roxane falls for Christian at first glance – however, he lacks the skill with words that Roxane seeks. Cyrano offers their skills as a wordsmith to Christian, as a way to express their own feelings for Roxane without posing a threat to their iron aorta. Meanwhile, tensions rise in France as revolution brews within.

Venue: Te Auaha – Tapere Nui

Date Range (We have 5 shows in total spanning 3 days, all at Te Auaha – Tapere Nui):
Friday 16th of Feb, 18:00 – 19:45
Saturday 17th of Feb, 15:00 – 16:45
Saturday 17th of Feb, 18:00 – 19:45
Sunday 18th of Feb, 15:00 – 16:45
Sunday 18th of Feb, 18:00 – 19:45

Concession: $19:00
General Admission: $22.50
Fringe Addict: $18.00

You can book tickets using the following link to the Fringe website:

Co-Director, Musical Director/Composer: Nate Smyth
Co-Director and Dramaturg: Nicola Hyland
Producers: Abi Shepherd and Sarah Thomasson
Stage Managers: Alex Dallas and Sophie Helm
Costumier: Alanah Munn
Set Designer: Nathan Arnott
Lighting Designer: Teddy O’Neill
Sound Designer: Joshua Lees
Hair and Makeup Artists: Pan Clark and Callie Chinery-Tompkins
Publicity Manager: Hellena Faasili
Graphic Designer and Publicity Assistant: Cate Sharma
Choreographer: Fynn Rees
Music Producer: Andre Moffat

Cyrano de Bergerac: Alex Quinn
Roxane Magdalene: Ava O’Brien
Christian de Neuvillette: Ethan Cranefield
Catherine Baudelaire: Rosie Mazur
Ragueneau: Jamie Honey
Captain Le Bret: Alanah Munn
Countess de Guiche: Pan Clark
Montfluery: Cate Sharma
Charles D’Assoucy: Zalán Orban
Viscount de Valvert: Tristan van der Velden
Marquise de Brioche: Callie Chinery-Tompkins
Marquise de Croissant: Sophie Helm
Ligniere: Tim Johnston
Henri: Henry Brosnahan
Lise: Samantha Lusty
Bellerosa: Peggie Barnes
Jodelet: Fynn Rees
Jean: Nate Smyth

Theatre ,

105 minutes

The bizarre and interesting creature that might sit inside yet to be revealed

Review by Cordy Black 17th Feb 2024

Watching a staged interpretation of an interpretation often brings a sense of unease and clutter with it. The Cyranoid is a show in its second run, featuring a different cast and venue. Its dramaturgical ideas are cribbed from different time periods, and its dramatic registers are likewise from multiple contexts and reenactments of contexts. It feels as though the entire show needs an editor, both to trim its bloated run time and to prioritise the strongest parts of the many things that this production is trying to shout all at once.

There’s a lot to like about the show. Rostand’s late 19th century retelling of a 17th century polymath’s life – the base text for this modern revêtement – is full of startling gear-changes, comedic interludes and rampant terrible puns. The Cyranoid modernises all of the original’s chaotic delight. It stays remarkably true to the spirit of Rostand’s script, down to translating the wordplay and some of the rhyme scheme. The original cast is credited for changing all the nose jokes to be about clockwork, Cyrano’s telltale heartbeat and prosthetic gadgets, and they have done an absolutely splendid job.

The onstage panache of male leads Alex Quinn and Ethan Cranefield is spot on. They bring a perfect balance of friendly rivalry to their interactions, and we become quickly and genuinely invested in their success. Jamie Honey gives tremendous Big Baker Energy as Ragueneau. The parts of the music that are original compositions are splendid, with Nate Smyth cleverly arranging most of the backing tracks to let the actors have big emotional moments despite their relative timidity as singers.

The trick of turning the various soldiers, impoverished artists and helpmeets into a semi-mechanised working class works unexpectedly well. It plays into contemporary 19th-century ‘pop culture’ themes in fiction – bringing to mind The Tales of Hoffmann, Coppelia or even Pinocchio. Our cyborg-ish characters slot into Rostand’s world without straining its seams. The steampunk-ish costuming is equally fine in this context, because the show is weightless and absurd enough for it to fit. It’s ironic that the one section of original Cyrano dialogue that shows him at his most science-fictional – his plans to go to the moon – is cut from this adaptation.

There is something banal and ugly about the way LGBT and marginalised identity is thrown out onstage as a brief gag, or slapped onto unsympathetic characters as an afterthought, while the core of the romance remains unqueered. The Rostand script dangles out a few tempting ideas for us rainbow folk: unfortunately it is a 19th century telling, and that means the queer-coding is ladled onto the villains of the story. A few casting tweaks and a slight redeployment of the gags would help a lot to rebalance things and retain all the camp aesthetic in a way that feels more affirming.

The ‘jukebox’ musical numbers referencing contemporary songs are the weakest parts of the show, musically speaking. The actors badly need a voice coach, direction that puts their faces forward and gets them standing so they can project properly, and microphones that are not constantly obscured by scarves or hair. Some of the crowd scenes are deft, with great reactions from the non-speaking parts and a sense that we are spying on their myriad of little dramas. Others are spoiled when players pull focus away from the emotional core of the scene.

The actors who concentrate less on terrible accents and more on conveying their social class through consistent tone and body language are the ones who earn the audience’s belief. Rozie Mazur, who plays Roxane’s assistant Catherine, is an understated and masterful example of doing a side character right. She quietly evolves and gains prestige through the show without ever ceasing to embody her character.

It is a struggle to come away with a clear definition of this show. It is like a fossilised concretion, rolling up too many scattered elements and slathering them together into a lumpen boulder. If someone brave comes along with a hammer and chisel, I hope they reveal the bizarre and interesting creature that might sit inside. 


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