The play begins with a scene at a theatre; Montfleury, an actor Cyrano detests, is performing this evening and everyone wonders if our favourite long-nosed hero will appear to prevent the performance.
After Cyrano has wowed the crowds with his duelling and wit, his friend Le Bret asks:
I see. Now tell the truth, why do you hate
That roll of lard? – so fat
He can’t reach round himself to touch his navel.
He still imagines himself the very devil
Where women are concerned, and, all the while
He’s hamming away up there, he makes his vile
Fish-eyes at them. I’ve loathed him ever since
I caught him ogling her. Does it make you wince
To see a slug crawling across a flower?
(Christopher Fry translation used)
Cyrano’s self-consciousness about his own appearance manifests itself here in an extreme disgust with Montfleury’s weight. While it seems initially as though Cyrano’s distaste for Montfleury is solely due to the actor’s poor oratory skills, which would be more in line with the importance Cyrano places publicly on wit, it is revealed in this exchange just how important physical appearance is to our hero.
His greatest fear is becoming Montfleury – becoming the unattractive man, flirting with women, unaware of his own ugliness.
Funny enough, no one else seems much bothered by unattractiveness. No one has mentioned Montfleury being fat before Cyrano does, and while Cyrano’s nose is talked about it seems to beso only because he is incredibly touchy about it.
In the writing process of Madeleine Robin, I wondered how Cyrano’s obsession with physical appearances might affect Roxane; she seems confident in herself, but by the end of the play she and Cyrano are much closer than they were when the play begins. Would his emphasis on perfection and beauty have rubbed off on her? Would she become as sensitive about her own appearance as he is about his?
Stay tuned for more writing blogs!
Madeleine Robin Known As Roxane opens February 5th at the Lemontree Creations Studio, and runs until February 9th.
Get your tickets now!