As the play is about to begin in the Hotel, Count de Guiche goes to speak with the Marquises. De Guiche invites the Marquises to climb onto the stage with him. Christian, watching all this, reaches into his pocket for his gloves, and realizes that the Pickpocket is stealing from him. The Pickpocket smiles calmly and gives Christian some news: there is a group of men sent to attack Ligniere that night. Ligniere has written a bawdy song that offended people in “high places,” the Pickpocket explains. The men—sent by someone whom the Pickpocket refuses to name—are stationed at every pub and tavern in town. Christian is reluctant to leave Roxane, but out of loyalty to Ligniere he rushes out of the Hotel to find his friend.
The fact that Christian spares the Pickpocket could be a sign of Christian’s generosity, his democratic leanings, or just his love for Roxane, which distracts him from everything else. Indeed, this brief scene helps us sort out these different aspects of Christian’s personality. Although he’s enamored with Roxane, he’s also a loyal friend who doesn’t turn up his nose at the lower classes. Thus, he gives up the pleasure of staring at Roxane and goes off to protect his friend Ligniere.
The audience shouts out for the play to begin. Then, unexpectedly, a silence falls over the room. Le Bret turns to a spectator to ask why everyone is so quiet. The spectator explains that a Cardinal has come to see the play—everyone will have to be on his best behavior around such an important religious figure.
The Cardinal (a senior leader in the Catholic Church) in this scene is probably Cardinal Richelieu, at the time the most powerful man in France. This is another reminder of the vast changes in French society at the time: the elite were mixing with the commoners in public.
The play begins, with the Marquises and the Count de Guiche sitting on the stage, watching. As the music plays, Le Bret whispers to Ragueneau that Cyrano has not come to the hotel that night. On the stage, the actor Montfluery walks in front of the audience wearing a gaudy dress—the audience laughs and applauds. Suddenly, a voice shouts out from the audience, reminding Montfluery, “Did I not forbid you to show your face here for a month?” The spectators turn, and Le Bret whispers, “Cyrano!”
Cyrano’s entrance into his own play is unforgettable—he literally usurps the performance of a rival performer, Montfluery, and inserts himself as the star. We already knew that Cyrano was a talented speaker and dueler, but now we see that he’s also a master showman, always performing for an audience, the bigger the better.
Cyrano de Bergerac emerges from the crowd and climbs onto the stage. He has a splendid mustache and an enormous nose.
The scene ends with something like a “punch-line”—this impressive, intimidating man is also somewhat ridiculous-looking.