The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0364  Wednesday, 23 February 2005

From:           William Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 23 Feb 2005 13:47:54 -0500
Subject:        Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival, Troilus and Cressida

The Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival's Troilus and Cressida open February
17 and runs through the matinee on March 6, 2005. I saw in on March 19,
and I was very favorably impressed. It is a must-see for anyone living
in the Cincinnati area. In fact, I know someone who is driving up from
Virginia to see it.

At the back of the set rise the white walls of Troy, decorated in red
roses, used as props suggesting blood and love throughout the play.
There is a large, curtained central utility entrance in the walls. It is
used for a variety of purposes. At 3.2.45, Cressida hides in the central
curtain and Pandarus pulls it aside saying: "Come, draw this curtain,
and let's see your picture." In many productions Cressida enters veiled
-- and the veil is the curtain.

The stage is a modified thrust with seating along the sides. As the
auditor enters, he (i.e. me) notices that toy soldiers are arranged into
two battle formations on the stage. A barbie is placed between them. The
cast enters seriatim and begins playing with the toy soldiers. Paris
immediately grabs the barbie and defends it. As the cast plays, the
action becomes ever more violent and random. They are called off stage
by a call to battle stations. The soldiers of the cast are dressed in
vaguely modern military uniforms, with Greek and Turkish insignias to
distinguish Trojan from Greek.

There's a lot of interest in the show. The Prologue (Jeffrey Sanders) is
dead Hector (shades of the Aeneid) who rises from his grave in the
central entrance to set the scene. He appears several times dead
throughout the show. The suggestion seems to be that this is Hector's
story from the grave. (I compare Larry Heinemann's Paco's Story.)

In an excellent performance, Anita Ross chose to play Pandarus as a
female. It was a brilliant choice that really changes the dynamic of the
script. Sexy young aunt Pandarus is quite different from old, diseased,
uncle pander. She's Troilus's close female friend, and she wants to fix
her niece up with a princely young stud. Nothin' wrong in that.

Thersites was played by Kelly Mengelkoch as androgynous -- and
rollicking rather than bittingly satirical. Her exuberance changed my
feeling about "boils."

Corinne Mohlenhoff played Cressida, Helen, and Cassandra. A very
interesting tripling of rolls.

There's more to say about this show, but my time is up. Back to reading

Bill Godshalk

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