Until recently, Virginia Gay did not dare think of herself as a writer. But as Steve Dowdiscovers, 2020 turned out to be a very constructive year for the much-loved actor, who despite contracting COVID-19 in Los Angeles, wrote two plays – an adaptation and a pantomime – both of which are being staged in Australia this year.

It took her quite a trek, but Virginia Gay is set to radically transform the neoclassical-romantic French play Cyrano de Bergerac. Not only is she gender-flipping the title role – which she will play herself in her new adaptation for Melbourne Theatre Company – but she is replacing the work’s five-act structure and rhyming couplets with short scenes written in a contemporary Australian poetic vernacular. And – spoiler alert – she is adding a happy ending. On top of that, she is discarding the fictionalised historical character’s most...