The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1938 Thursday, 2 August 2001
Date: Thursday, 2 Aug 2001 01:20:59 EDT
Subject: 12.1866 Re: T and C (Ashland)
Comment: Re: SHK 12.1866 Re: T and C (Ashland)
I just returned from vacation to read your discussion of the Oregon
Shakespeare Festival's Troilus and Cressida, which I too saw in early
July. Good points were made about Helen and Cressida, to which I have
little to add (I agree that the Greek kissing scene is nearly
unbearable. Calchas' leaving part way through the scene makes us wonder
why ever he bargained so hard for his daughter to come to the Greek camp
when he can't take care of her!) I wasn't impressed with Ken Albers'
Pandarus, particularly in his final speech, and not just because it's
moved from the end of the play. To show how sick he is, he has a
coughing fit and thus diminishes the impact of his lines (and their
clarity). In an e-mail to a friend soon after seeing the show in early
July, other points struck me. Here it is, slightly edited:
Alas, the most disappointing play I saw in Ashland was Troilus and
Cressida --and not just because of comparing it to that intense version
in NY last April with Tony Church as Pandarus. That production had its
weaknesses, particularly the actor who played Troilus. Ashland's
Troilus is wonderful, the hunk Kevin Kenerly whom we've long admired.
OSF must too: his photos from this play and Life is a Dream grace many
of their printed materials this year. But the production plays to the
groundlings via a hectically-acted Thersites, as well as in other ways.
It substitutes a much repeated 'all is war and lechery' emphasis for any
deeper exploration. The Greeks, who would be at least a little grubby
after nine years camping out, wear costumey velvets. Patroclus has
basically no character at all and, I guess to define their relationship,
he and Achilles make out a lot. A weird detail is that Patroclus'
bloody corpse hangs from stage above through much of the final action,
giving some unintentionally funny moments: Achilles plays with his feet
at one point, though eventually simply dodges the body as if it's a
troublesome prop. When they take their bows, that moment of darkness
should have been used to unstrap poor Patroclus from his hanging ropes.
Instead we see him unfastened and he goes offstage at the end with a big
metal hook on the middle of his back.
Hector is badly cast, a decent actor but no hero of Troy (and poorly
costumed besides), and the Trojan council scene is too sparsely
attended, with Cassandra making only a flying entrance and exit instead
of being an anguished presence through the debate and Hector's selling
The production doesn't feel well thought out, though as theatre it does
keep your interest; we didn't doze off or anything. There are just too
many purposeless or bizarre choices and loads of missed opportunities
(the Trojans don't even parade by when Pandarus teases Cressida at the
beginning: a perfect way to introduce the main characters!). You may
want to see it anyhow, but it's not worth planning your summer around.
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