The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1560 Tuesday, 22 August 2000.
Date: Tuesday, 22 Aug 2000 13:02:36 +1000
Subject: 11.1550 Troilus and Cressida in Melbourne
Comment: Re: SHK 11.1550 Troilus and Cressida in Melbourne
It sounds like a pretty coarse grained production, I must say, but it's
a play that invites that kind of treatment. For the humanly tragic
dimension of the story I think you really need to go to Chaucer's poem.
I saw a good production about twelve years ago in Brisbane, staged in
the round in the old Museum building, a huge crumbling late-Victorian
redbrick and silver monstrosity (which I quite like). You felt you
shouldn't clap too hard in case you brought it down around your ears! It
was put on by 'Grin & Tonic', a small company that tours Shakespeare to
schools, and directed by Bryan Nason, who's been an institution in
Queensland theatre for over thirty years now.
The production, as I remember it, had a few interesting features. One
was that Thersites was played, with much over-the-top scabrousness and
currish writhing, by the then not-so-famous Geoffrey Rush. Another was
Ulysses' speech on order, delivered uncut by a New Zealand-born actor
called Rhys McConnachie, a veteran of radio I think, which was so
beautifully structured and spoken you felt like demanding an encore
there and then. It was actually interesting and exhilarating to listen
to. I'm sure most modern directors would think of it as a boring slab of
Elizabethan political propaganda that they couldn't wait to take the
pencil to (and I'm sure in the hands of most actors it would be). I
wonder if it was cut, in whole or in part, from the Bell production.
Tim? Whether it's important to have the Elizabethan World Picture
projected at all in this play, and if so whether it should be somehow
ironically subverted in the delivery, are moot points. Nason and
McConnachie seemed happy to let the speech stand on its own.
The other memorable feature was that Cassandra was played by a young
woman with cerebral palsy, with the speech and motor impairments
characteristic of that condition. I think a minority of audience members
were shocked and offended by this, and there are clearly some difficult
questions to ponder. As theatre, though, I have to say it was utterly