PREVIEW: Peter Grant talks to former Corrie actress and playwright Deborah McAndrew about her new adaptation of Cyrano De Bergerac at the Liverpool Playhouse in March.
Deborah McAndrew played the fiesty Angie Freeman in Coronation Street during the 90s, but she is known for her work with Northern Broadsides.
She also runs Claybody Theatre in Stoke with husband Conrad Nelson who was brought up in Wirral and attended Wirral Grammar School.
Deborah is looking forward to a return to Merseyside with the classic comedy Cyrano. She says working with Conrad is a good, solid partnership.
”It helps having Conrad directing because I do trust him.”
”He reads the script I have written and he knows what I need.”
”When we are talking about theatre we use the same language and have the same view on things.”
There have been various versions of Edmond Ristrand’s romatic comedy before from Gerard Depardieu to Steve Martin on screen and Sir Anthony Sher on stage.
Deborah is passionate about the character and the story.
”I grew up loving Robin Hood and Cyrano.”
”This new version is pretty much still all in verse, but I’ve jazzed it up, so there are different kinds of verse forms within it and some prose.”
Deborah says she has also re-examined the role of Roxane.
”Although she is, inevitably, that classic female who drives the story only by virtue of the fact that she is desired by men, she is much more than this.”
”Unfortunately, I have seen Roxane portrayed in the theatre as a rather vacuous, spoilt girl – which apart from being sexist, is demonstrably a misreading of the character.”
”In my view, Roxane must be Cyrano’s intellectual and moral equal, otherwise why would he love her? However, the original is of its time, and isn’t particularly sensitive to gender politics.”
”There are moments where the play requires her to be quite gullible, if not stupid. I’ve cleaned some of that up.”
Huddersfield-born Deborah says Cyrano is relevant today.
And she has relished this chance of putting the distinctive Broadsides stamp on it.
”The themes of love, loyalty and disguise are timeless. But I also think this is about a bloke with what today we would call ‘body dystrophic disorder.'”
”Okay, he does have a big nose, but he’s the only one who has a problem with it.”
”Everyone else stops noticing it after a while. Cyrano is a man who can’t get past his own nose. His fear of rejection and ridicule is absolutely crippling and that’s something we can all identify with to some extent.”