A professor of mine once called theatre "words in space." He was a poet himself, so naturally he had his own bias. But still, this sometimes describes what goes on in a playhouse, and especially in the two greatest balcony scenes ever written, where the lovers are separated in space, exchanging words in the dark. Or rather the lover/poet is in the dark, and the beloved is upstairs on her balcony glowing beautifully. Both scenes are played in moonlight, and in both scenes the beloved is herself a moon, illuminated by catching and reflecting the light of the ardent words flung across the darkness into her waiting ear. As for the words themselves, Shakespeare beats Rostand hands down--he beats everyone hands down. But Rostand's scene is just as good, and partly because his balcony scene is a menage a trois, enriched by Christian's tongue -tied yearning presence under the balcony, listening to Cyrano give love wings and voice. It's wonderful how Cyrano and Christian have become the perfect lover, the one contributing the beauty of physical form, the other of poetic soul, to form, as Cyrano says, "one hero for the storybook." And in the event--this particular event--the separation of faculties has become virtually absolute. In the dark, Cyrano has become disembodied--only his words exist. But these words have acquired potency. Christian's words "limp out, trickle out" and very soon they even cease to exist. Cyrano's words are abundant, they rise up, they defy gravity, and it is his words that make Roxane temble--they take complete possession of her. True, Christian climbs the balcony ("mount, you animal!" Cyrano says) and gets the kiss---but the kiss is only granted because Cyrano's words have already penetrated Roxane's soul--Cyrano has already kissed her with his words, and this is the kiss we in the audience feel, "the eternity in the instant the bee sips."
Later in the play, after floods of letters from the battlefield, Roxane aplogizes to Christian for having loved him first for his beauty, which she now finds only a distraction. Cyrano's language has completely trumped Christian's good looks---Roxane even wishes him ugly so she could love him even more. It's fair to say Roxane retreats to her convent for fifteen years because she is faithful to the language of love. She wears her lover's last letter (written by Cyrano of course) in her bosom. She tells a visitor that her lover isn't really dead--that they still meet in a "special region," where she finds "love between the living." That region is the realm of poetry; her lover's words live on next to her heart, both burning. Is this hokum? Yes, of course it is. But it's hokum of the most theatrical kind---words have been given body in space. Now that' s theatre love for you---and love doesn't get much more ravishing than that.