Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmond Rostand

My Copy: 9780451531988 (image from amazon.com)

From the bloody violence of Titus yesterday comes a story of ridiculous love story and play for Valentine’s Day (that was a coincidence, by the way, I just finished it last night).

Anyway, Cyrano de Bergerac is the story of a master wordsmith and poet who is a gallant champion and loved by most (at least anyone he hasn’t cheerfully made an enemy of). However, he has an incredibly big nose that he believes makes him unworthy of love and adulation, especially for his cousin, the beautiful Roxanne. He befriends a cadet who is also in love with Roxanne named Christian, who is a very handsome young man who Roxanne falls for in return. But Christian has no way with words and is blundering with women, so Cyrano becomes his voice and his pen to woo Roxanne, even though it crushes him to do so.

As Cyrano puts it, with Christian’s looks and Cyrano’s thoughts, they make a mighty lover for Roxanne to desire…and Roxanne has plenty of suitors so they’d better get moving.

This is a story that’s been re-told dozens of times in the years since it first hit the stage, and after reading it, I can see why.

Cyrano is an amazing character to read. He’s witty, amazing, a little bombastic but a gentleman at the same time. I think he’s the most fun character I’ve ever read in a play (so far). And yet, permeating everything he says and does, he still believes himself so unworthy of love because of his deformed and protruding nose (which others are very careful not to acknowledge around him, lest he go into a towering rage).

Actually, it’s Christian’s use of the word “nose” repeatedly in one scene that makes Cyrano take notice of him…and the rest is history. (That scene in particular is funny).

I can only imagine how difficult it would be to bring a great performance of this play to the stage. there is so much action, so many walk on characters, and so much dialogue. The actor who played Cyrano would have to be well versed in the character and have a spectacular memory to get through all those lines! Well, it’d be worth seeing on stage at least once.

It’s a fun play to read, and it saddens me that it’s only in high school than most people get an exposure to it. I actually never read it in high school, but was browsing Masterclass info and found that Steve Martin wrote and starred in Roxanne, an adaptation of the story. Well, I haven’t watched it yet, because I figured that I might as well read the original play first.

Yeah, I’ll be taking his Masterclass eventually, too. This is sad and yet very comedic play, though I admit I get annoyed at the initial frivolity of Roxanne. At least she wasn’t ONLY attracted to a handsome face–when Christian starts to screw up, she gets annoyed and thinks he’s an idiot (til Cyrano saves his reputation with his words in disguise). But when she shows up at a battlefield to find Christian, her bravery wins even a cynic like me over.

The ending was pretty good, though I wish it’d been different.

I won’t spoil it for you, and explain how. Just read it and you’ll know.

Happy reading.

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