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Ive been around theater for quite a while, and I was lucky enough to be in this play twice, once as Cyrano. Ive done Shakespeare, ONeill, Chekhov...and Ive never been in a play that comes close to this in terms of dramatic force.

Hercule Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac, a cadet (nobleman serving as a soldier) in the French Army, is a brash, strong-willed man of many talents. In addition to being a remarkable duelist, he is a gifted, joyful poet and is also shown to be a musician. However, he has an extremely large nose, which is the reason for his own self-doubt. This doubt prevents him from expressing his love for his distant cousin, the beautiful and intellectual heiress Roxane, as he believes that his ugliness denies him the dream of being loved by even an ugly woman.

The fashion in French theater at the time it was written was simple domestic drama: husbands and wives and their various conflicts. This play exploded on the scene and there was extremely strong public reaction. (I think there may even have been riots.)

For modern American audiences, I must confess, its a pretty long haul. Even with some judicious cutting, its tough to get the thing down close to three hours. But what a ride! Poetry, fight scenes, comedy, tears...its just incredible.

In all the plays Ive done, Ive never done one that comes so close to, literally, the meaning of life. Why are we here? What makes human beings act the way they do? Why do people try things that are clearly impossible? Its all in there.

I knew someone in college who gave this paperback edition to everyone he knew as a gift, because it spoke so strongly to him.

Looking back on it now, Im amazed that I was able to memorize all the text, because Im convinced that this is the longest role in Western theater...longer than Hamlet, I think.

This translation has been called the greatest translation of poetry ever, and while Im not a poetry student, I can agree. Squishing the 6-foot French lines into 5-foot English lines and still retaining the dramatic flow must have been a daunting task.

Anyway, its the greatest play I have ever seen, read or performed.

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