Here are some of my thoughts upon coming home from Cyrano last night. Unfortunately, the last performance at Park Square just started minutes ago, so I can’t bring any extra business their way by posting, but I will still make the post!
The following text is adapted from some journal-thoughts on my personal blog. :)
The play was good, some of the actors (Emily Gunyou Halaas in particular, as usual) were especially good. It reminded me so much of my partner and of being a writer and the nature of soul, etc.
Types of Love?
Cyrano slices a huge gap between romantic and sexual love. This ups the romance, it feels like, but definitely downplays the importance and connectivity of the physical. This is not unexpected, of course, when the play so clearly sets up a potential juxtaposition of body (Christian) and brain (Cyrano), but it is dangerous because it implies to the audience that love of one sort, or expressed in one way (verbal/written/spoken articulation) is more real another (the physical and/or the emotional which is beyond our comprehension of speech).
Of course we feel bad for Christian. But we cry for Cyrano. And I’m not sure how I feel about that.
The “Ideal Female”
Roxane gets to do a few amazing things, in particular cross enemy lines disguised as a boy, but overall she is does not have a huge depth of character. Female! She grows enough to value content over packaging, yet at the same time she is enamored with prosaic context as representative of love. So… I suspect that a lot of what is supported thematically in this story is also negated through her character as well.
Although it does not appear so initially, she is concerned with appearances of both body and mind – the words which covey wooing (as Christian, in love with her, tries to articulate that love using his body, using “I love you” instead of more poetic language, she scoffs), the mourning she puts on for fifteen years after his death. She values intelligence and wit, and is intelligent herself yet doesn’t figure out until Cyrano basically confides in her on his death bed that it was his words all along.
Emily Gunyou Halaas does an amazing job capturing Roxane’s emotional depth, or more accurately, her defining qualities which are characterized as inherently “feminine”: as protector (both of Cyrano [caring for his wounds] and of Christian through requests [for Cyrano to protect him] and clever tricks [to keep him off the front lines of battle]) of those she loves and loyalty to those she loves (her mourning, her word choice around powerful but undesired suitors, even her appearance on the battlefield, etc).
She is powerful, but purely as the “ideal” female of the past.
Balcony to Balcony – Love to Lust
The balcony scene in particular reminded me of Romeo and Juliet. That is the play to write about in comparison to Cyrano de Bergerac and I owe the universe a million dollars if it hasn’t been hammered to death by scholars everywhere already.
Both balcony scenes are about the moment of falling in love, the connection between two lovers. But Romeo and Juliet, although poetic, is tensely sexual. The wordplay is full of love, but most definitely that sexual lust I stated is fairly missing from Cyrano. There is something implied in the balcony scene of Cyrano, outside of the power of romantic love and connection through words, words as representations of our true selves. There is an implication about the power of those words as well. Not only is the balcony, are the shadows, creating illusions in this scene, but the words deceive well. There is something powerful in words, particularly those wielded by a master, but they can corrupt, conceal, and set up expectations which are unrealistic.
This is a scene in both Romeo and Juliet and in Cyrano in which the viewer feels the power of love and wants to rejoice for the characters on stage, but is also filled with fear and sadness for them – in Shakespeare because of their family circumstances, but in Cyrano because of the circumstances which he himself has created.
What’s That Big Thing in Front of Your Face?
The unbarring of souls in poetry also reminded me of my own life. Of how one could interpret their own fears and self-doubt as Cyrano’s nose. If only we stopped assuming our flaws, our potentially ugly bits, are so large, then perhaps we could have our heart’s desire.