The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1566  Wednesday, 5 August 2003

From:           Paul Swanson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 5 Aug 2003 12:34:31 EDT
Subject:        A Bold Troilus and Cressida

The Stratford Festival's current "Troilus and Cressida" is one of the
boldest productions Festival audiences may have seen there. Directed by
Richard Monette, it produces a strange conglomeration of horror,
eroticism, anger, regret, and a myriad of other emotional polarities. I
left the theatre with a sense unlike any other I have experienced, and
I'm not quite sure what to call it except raw and disturbed.

I must say, though, that I think this is a very good production.

Given current world events, the play resonates with audiences in a
variety of ways. Paris is played as a wild, headstrong, and
devastatingly immature character, one who resembles a "Surfer Boy"
caricature. I wonder how many audiences saw parallels between him and
the American President.

The closing speech of Pandarus -- on paper a silly and comical parting
-- is presented as an agonized and bitter denunciation of virtually the
entire world. Just as the speech ends, a strange, driving song begins to
blare, and while the name and artist escapes me, the song includes
lyrics saying something along the lines of "I want to f--k you like an
animal" and something other bit about penetration. Then silence.

Not exactly Walt Disney, but an interesting choice.

Among other things, the production includes a briefly nude Patroclus,
several homo-erotic moments involving Pandarus (played by Bernard
Hopkins), and a very explicit 3.1, where Pandarus has his conversation
with Helen and Paris while Helen and Paris have intercourse in a variety
of positions. At one point, Helen even quickly motions her attendants
over to her to help her balance in a way that allows Paris to penetrate
her more deeply.

The production also contains numerous long, passionate kisses between
Achilles and Patroclus. Interestingly, when last I saw a production of
"TC" at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the homosexual relationship
between Achilles and Patroclus was very understated -- I'm not even sure
the two men touched very much at all, leading me to wonder whether the
likely conservative Alabama audiences would implicitly place limitations
on a director's options regarding how the Achilles-Patroclus scenes
would need to be staged. On the contrary, the Stratford production seems
to hold little back.

If anyone else on list has seen this production, I would be interested
in your thoughts. From my perspective, I thought this was a very
thoughtful and complex production of a thoughtful and complex play.

Paul Swanson

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