The first scene introduces us to the poet/swashbuckler Cyrano in a very theatrical scene. It literally takes place in a theater, with Cyrano poetically heckling an actor he despises, which very quickly tells us who he is. It soon comes out that Cyrano is in love with his beautiful cousin Roxane, so when she tells him that she loves the handsome Christian, a fellow soldier in his regiment, Cyrano agrees to look out for him. Unbeknownst to Roxane, he also agrees to write letters to her from Christian, who is not blessed with the gift of poetry as Cyrano is. Roxane continues to fall in love with Christian through his (Cyrano's) letters, culminating in a lovely balcony scene reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet. The second act sees Cyrano and Christian going off to war (specifically, the Thirty Years' War, see also Mother Courage and Her Children), with Roxane in pursuit, unable to be parted from her love. When she tells Christian that she loves him for his soul, and would love him even if he were ugly, he realizes that it's Cyrano she truly loves, not him. It's a tragically bittersweet ending, as truths are revealed too late.*
|Cyrano (Jay O. Sanders) and Christian
(Robert Lenzi) woo Roxane (Jennie
Greenberry, photo by T. Charles Erickson)
|the set of Cyrano de Bergerac (photo by T. Charles Erickson)
Cyrano de Bergerac is perhaps the best unrequited love story ever told (and I love an unrequited love story), made ever more bittersweet by the fact that Cyrano's love is, unknowingly, requited. Or rather it could be if he could get over his own nose and let it. But who among us doesn't feel there is something about us that makes us unloved and unlovable? Perhaps that's why this story touches us so and doesn't show any signs of going away after 120 years. Cyrano reminds us that everyone is deserving of love, even large-nosed poets and simple-minded soldiers.
Cyrano de Bergerac continues through May 5.
*Plot summary borrowed from what I wrote about Park Square Theatre's 2014 production of Cyrano.