Sunday, March 17, 2013

My dearest love, I never loved you!

I saw Cyrano de Bergerac for the fist time on stage the other day. I feel like I should have something to say about this, seeing as it's my favorite story of all time and all that jazz. And since working at The Story Museum I've come to love stories even more than before (if that is possible) and see their connection and importance to the lives we live every day. But anyway- Cyrano has been my favorite story ever since senior year of high school,  when I first read it in a world lit class that should have been good but wasn't. (I'm extremely sure I've blogged about all of this before, however if this is the case it was probably years ago, seeing as I blog so seldomly these days, so whatever) We read it and then watched the Gerard Depardieu film version, but I am like 99.9% sure I loved it before we watched the film. No, I'm 100% sure, because I remember being really worried about the actor playing Cyrano, since I was in love with him. Since then I've been smitten- I love Cyrano more than any fictional character ever. More than Atticus and Peter Pan and Ron Weasley. There, I said it. I guess this is because he has the lowest self esteem, and has the least reasons to feel so inclined. I guess I feel like he needs my love the most, and yes, I realize he's fictional (we've been over this a million times, Maria, your imaginary friends are IMAGINARY), but I don't care. What's more real, what we do in our every day lives (brush teeth, post mail, go to the dentist for not brushing well enough), or how certain intangible things make us feel? I have a friend who claims I don't exist because I'm not in his life, aka, live in his country/state and interact with him on a regular basis. I see his point (and realize it's a joke, fyi), but I still reject this out of hand. Some of my most meaningful correspondences (aka family and friends at home) are mostly in my head (aka, reading e-mails) and they mean as much to me as anything else that might happen to me in 'real' life. That was a really long winded way of saying that my love for Cyrano floweth over and is a real, noteworthy thing which I guess I could have just said, but I have this strange desire to always justify everything I saw, which I'll get to later. But now, Cyrano.

I was told by a friend that seeing an amateur version of a play you love might ruin it for you. I'm not saying this version was bad, not at all, I'm just saying that this was my level of expectation when I went into it; expecting anything, but nonetheless excited. And I was pleasantly surprised. Some of the smaller characters were questionably acted; I could have done with a funnier Ragueneau (the pastry chef who loves poetry and is cuckolded by a Musketeer) but that was made up for with an adorable little nun in the last scene. However in my eyes all of this is superfluous next to the actor playing Cyrano- because, to me, if you have a good Cyrano, you have a good play. And he was VERY good. 

He was played by Rupert Winter of the Oxford Theatre Guild (when referring to an English organization, I feel compelled to spell Theater with the re) and he was beautiful. They were using Anthony Burgess' translation (That's right, who also did A Clockwork Orange. Weird, I know), which is actually one I haven't read before, and it was fantastic. Winter really nailed it, adding additional emotion to scenes that I didn't think could hold any more, and some to places I've never seen before. One scene in particular, which is always my favorite in any version, was particularly good, and just because of one tiny detail. Again, I've most likely talked about this before, but anyway- the balcony scene. 

In this scene, Roxanne, Cyrano's love, is up on her balcony at night, while Cyrano and Christian, the boy Cyrano has been helping to woo Roxanne (you know, 'my brains and your good looks doth an Adonis make' sort of thing. Did I mention (for all those who don't know the story) that Cyrano has a gigantic nose and thinks he's hideous?), are down below, in the shadows. At first, Cyrano tries to feed Christian lines from under the balcony, as Pretty Boy Christian stands out in clear sight, however he's not the sharpest tool in the shed and it's soon clear this is just not going to work. Cyrano pulls Christian back as Roxanne stands baffled and unsatisfied above ('you give me military statistics when I crave poetry!' or something like that. I should really translate it myself, that would be hilarious. (and by that I mean bad.)). To keep Roxanne from running off in a prissy huff (I'm not her biggest fan), Cyrano continues talking to her in Christian's place, and at the same time taking Christian's hat and cape and putting them on himself before emerging from the shadows. Still hidden by the wide brim of the Cavalier hat and plume, he proceeds to tell Roxanne exactly how he feels about her, pouring out his soul to her with the freedom to do so that he's never before experienced due to his crippling insecurities about his appearance. It's a beautiful scene, made all the more heartbreaking by the added detail in the performance by Winter (or Burgess)- at the end, Cyrano, overcome with emotion, reaches up to the balcony behind him just as Roxanne reaches down and grabs his hand. That's it, just that one tiny detail made all the difference. To me anyway. 

So I was happy with my first on-stage performance experience. The friend I went with was not as pleased- but she is not into all that romance. It is over-dramatic, and at times you just want to smack Cyrano on the face and say 'SHE LOVES YOU ALREADY JUST GO AND TELL HER FOR THE LOVE OF FENCING,' but to me, the tragedy of the character is what makes it good. He clearly has an intense social phobia when it comes to women, a strong fear of rejection and insecurities out the wazoo about his appearance. You could see it as a cautionary tale to anyone with similar difficulties, a glimpse of what life could be like if you don't try your hardest to overcome your fears. Because really, as brave as Cyrano is on the battle field (he bested 100 men at the Porte de Nesl!), when it comes to the one thing, or person rather, that sets his soul on fire, he cannot simply speak his mind. I've been there (not in a romantic sense); I've been crippled by shyness and let me tell you, it's the pits. But I hated it, so I worked really hard to get over it, going to such extremes as moving to another country where I only knew one person and living in a house full of strangers (some of which are now some of my best friends in the world). I'm still shy, but not nearly as bad as I used to be, and I think I'm leading a happier life for it. 

Alright, this love letter has come to it's close. 

Now, two pictures that sum up English weather very nicely. 


This was taken yesterday.

This was taken this morning.


dolores said...

"post mail" Hahaha!

Supposed to snow here tonight too! Ugh...where is Spring?!

foobella designs said...

Lovely post, Maria.

Two things:

1) Have you seen the modern (if you call 1986 modern) with Steve Martin, 'Roxanne'? I love that movie.

2) It is not a bad thing to be shy. :)