Royal Shakespeare Company: Troilus and Cressida
- 3h 30m
RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran directs the rarely performed Shakespeare play set in the Trojan War in its first production in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) since 2006 when it play... Read allRSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran directs the rarely performed Shakespeare play set in the Trojan War in its first production in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) since 2006 when it played as part of the RSC's Complete Works Festival. Troilus and Cressida swear they will alwa... Read allRSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran directs the rarely performed Shakespeare play set in the Trojan War in its first production in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) since 2006 when it played as part of the RSC's Complete Works Festival. Troilus and Cressida swear they will always be true to one another. But in the seventh year of the siege of Troy their innocence is... Read all
Royal Shakespeare Company's live transmissions and the productions available on DVD are an interesting experience. Not all of them were great, didn't care for 2018's 'Macbeth' at all despite liking the two leads in other things. A lot of them are in the average and very good categories, with some of them suffering from either not having enough of its own identity or having enough original touches ('Julius Caesar', 'Antony and Cleopatra') or trying too hard to appeal to modern audiences or trying to be too different in a way that jars with the text ('Romeo and Juliet', 'The Merry Wives of Windsor'). There are also some great productions, such as 'Titus Andronicus' and 'Coriolanus'. Their 2018 'Troilus and Cressida' is a long way from perfect, but is a very solid production and at its best actually excellent. Very well acted, powerful and atmospheric, but less noise more subtlety was needed and the gender reversals don't quite come off.
Plenty of wonderful things can be seen here. Really liked the chillingly dystopian production values, especially the wonderfully nightmarish lighting. The intimate video directing makes one appreciate it more and notice things that is not as obvious to see on stage. Most of Gregory Doran's stage direction is very inventive and comes over extremely well. This actually is one of his most inventive and most ambitious directing jobs for the Royal Shakespeare Company). Not every touch works sure, but when it does it is fantastic. It is mostly tasteful and true in spirit to the play, but has enough of its own identity to set it apart (refreshing after seeing some rather undistinguished Shakespeare productions and films overtime. The climax is one of Shakespeare's most harrowing and executed to hair-raising and thrilling effect here, with some of the best choreographed action of any Shakespeare production in recent years.
In terms of characteristics and developments, the characterisation is nailed and beautifully detailed. Which has always been a strength actually of Doran's. No character is one dimensional. The comedy is very funny and the drama has intensity and vast emotional impact. Most of the acting is truly excellent, the best being Adjoa Andoh's chillingly calculating Ulysses and Oliver Ford Davies' amusing senile yet endearing Pandarus. Amber James is touching and spirited as Cressida and Gavin Fowler is initially naive but later growing in confidence (very well suited for the character) Troilus.
Not all the staging works sadly. Some of it does jar with the text and tends to be too noisy and in need of a toning down. Hector's death is just plain silly. It is always interesting to see gender reversals in Shakespeare productions (and some have worked, such as a female Malvolio and a female Kent, both from National Theatre productions of 'Twelfth Night' and 'King Lear'). Sadly other than Ulysses this conceit doesn't work in 'Troilus and Cressida', the text and setting are just too specific. Thessites comes off worst, an easy character to overact and Sheila Reid in my view did so.
Was very mixed on percussionist Evelyn Glennie's music score. Parts are truly thrilling and have not heard warfare scored with this much ferocious intensity for anything in a while since my re-listening recently of Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony. Did find though that there were too many instances of it being too intrusive and over-emphasised. Some of the dialogue clarity is compromised as a result.
Overall, very solid but didn't wow me. 7/10.
- Jul 9, 2021