Bittersweet tale of unrequited love, nobility and honor. This play is set in France in 1640, during the reign of Louis XIII. Cyrano de Bergerac is known as the best swordsman in France, and is equally revered as a wordsmith and a quick wit. His pride comes out in displays of courage and bravado and is only diminished by his insecurity about his appearance. He hides his insecurity using his sword and when necessary, in witty verbal sparring where he beats others to the punch in mocking his large nose.
Cyrano denies his own happiness by refusing to admit his love for his distant cousin, Madeleine Robin, the lovely Roxane, and admits his reason for doing so to his good friend, Le Bret, who encourages him to speak to Roxane and give her the benefit of the doubt.
When Roxane requests Cyrano’s presence in a private meeting, his hopes are raised (refer to the “Bring me giants!” quote above) but then dashed when he learns that the purpose of the meeting is that Roxane wants Cyrano’s help in romancing another. She admits to loving Baron Christian de Neuvillette, a soldier in Cyrano’s regiment, a man she doesn’t really know but is enamored with partly because of his physical good looks and partly by the fact that she has heard that he is besotted with her as well. Through his stunned disappointment, Cyrano agrees to befriend Christian and keep him from harm.
Their first meeting proves Christian to be rather unlikable as he uses every opportunity to make rude references to Cyrano’s nose. Normally this would be the cause of a duel, but because of Cyrano’s promise to Roxane, he must rein in his temper and befriend the lout instead. He makes Christian aware of Roxane’s feelings and agrees to help Christian when he admits that he wouldn’t be able to impress her with his inept writing skills if he sent her a letter. Christian wishes for Cyrano’s wit; and Cyrano laments that he doesn’t have Christian’s good looks. He ponders the fact that if the two men could be combined, they would make ‘one hero of romance’. He agrees to write the letters for Christian and feed him flowery and poetic phrases to use in conversation. This is how their deception begins.
After they are ordered to join up with their regiment in the Siege of Arras against the Cardinal Prince of Spain, Roxane arranges a hasty marriage to Christian. They are separated by necessity before there is a wedding night (which Cyrano admits to himself doesn’t bother him much). As they are rushing off to war, Roxane begs Cyrano to watch over her new husband and to encourage Christian to write her every day. Cyrano promises that she will receive letters every day, although he cannot guarantee the rest. This promise is kept in a very heart-tugging way.
The rest of the play deals with that war and the aftermath, and how both Christian and Cyrano prove their integrity and mutual love for Roxane, even after she discovers their perfidy. Wonderful.