"Cyrano de Bergerac"

Le Neon Theatre at Rosslyn Spectrum

Through Dec. 19

Tickets: 703/218-6530

Eleven years ago, Monica Neagoy attended a French play at a small local theater called Le Neon. Afterward, she met the founder, Didier Rousselet, who, upon learning that Neagoy was fluent in both French and English, urged her to become part of his company.

"I'll do anything to help backstage," Neagoy recalls telling Rousselet. "But never onstage."

Despite her intentions, however, by the next season Neagoy, a math professor who had never been in a play, became one of the company's regular actors. She and Rousselet now co-direct the company as well as many of its productions, including the current English-language production of Edmond Rostand's "Cyrano de Bergerac." Rousselet performs the title role, and Neagoy plays Roxanne, the woman Cyrano pines for even as he is helping a friend write love letters to win her heart.

As for Rousselet, he now admits his intentions in approaching Neagoy were more than purely professional. The two were married two years ago.

You might think the stressful, ego-driven environment of the theater wouldn't be the best place for a marriage to thrive. But the two insist both love and art can exist happily together.

"The unbelievable truth is we just love working together and we're never sick of each other," says Neagoy. "It's the best time of our lives when we're creating something onstage."

The downside is that in their directing roles they focus more on the other actors' scenes than on their own.

"We always postpone our scenes, thinking we can work on them together," says Rousselet.

In "Cyrano," Rousselet finds himself the odd man out in the romantic triangle completed by Patrick Sweetman as Christian, Cyrano's friend. Yet he says the lingering kiss exchanged between Sweetman and his wife doesn't bother him a bit. (But then, he's got his back to them as it's happening.)

"Even the love scenes are fun to direct," he says. "It's just theater."