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« Blog-a-Book: The Beauty of God’s Tapestry | Main | Because I said so, that’s why! »

July 23, 2007

Blog-a-Book: ’Cyrano,’ Act I, Scenes I and II

Cyrano2 "Hey! That'll be fifteen sous!"

That's how Cyrano starts out, and I'm not quite sure what to make of it. I'm not even sure what (a) sous is/are. But we are at a playhouse, and this opening demand is made to a member of the royal family who claims exemption to an admission fee. The nerve. The next patron through the door refuses payment as well: "Musketeer. We get in free."

For the rest of the opening two scenes, we are eavesdropping around the theater, while the viewers settle in for their show. It is a bit chaotic, but nearly every character introduced -- however briefly -- seems to have some elements in common: self-exaltation and a need for attention. It is almost as if they jumped from the page, grabbed Edmond Rostand's pen, and proclaimed, "Write about me, I am important!"

Perhaps, then, it is appropriate that our heroes do not appear until Scene II -- and Cyrano only by mention, and only by what has the feel of backhanded flattery.

Christian, on the other hand, is a humble contrast to the deluge of haughtiness around him, and in particular to his inebriated counterpart, Ligniere. Christian doesn't show signs of discomfort in the high-class setting, but he doesn't share the need for the spotlight either. And Christian is even, of course, terrified at the thought of rejection by Roxane, who has already stolen his heart. The noblemen vouch for her striking beauty. Christian is mezmerized, intimidated, yet ready to fight for her.

Cyrano is ready to fight, too, holding some grudge with the lead actor. Yet the title character's absence from the early part of the first act may be an intriguing foreshadowing of what is to come.

Meanwhile, humility has been depicted as a rare commodity thus far -- but for anything that truly matters, it is the price of admission.

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