Review: Troilus and Cressida

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Judging from this preview, it’s hard to see why Troilus and Cressida is one of Shakespeare’s least known plays. It seems to have it all – fight scenes, star-crossed lovers, and many witty one-liners. But it was very rarely performed until the 20th century heralded a mini revival. Now director Rafaella Marcus leads a talented team of actors who bring these characters to life and give the play the performance it deserves.

It takes place during the Trojan War, as political disputes amongst the Greeks are balanced by the love blossoming in Troy between gallant Prince Troilus and the smitten but shy Cressida. In the Greek camp, Lucy Fyffe shines as the scheming Ulysses, with her careful and measured diction making sure that her long monologues keep the audience’s attention. Chris Adams and Charlotte Salkind are excellent as the young lovers, utterly convincing both in joy and in the face of utter disaster. Richard Hill steals the show with a hilarious portrayal of Cressida’s interfering, bawdy uncle. The comedy that ensues when he is onstage only heightens the tragedy that later follows, when Cressida is forced to go to the Greek camp as slave to Diomedes in exchange for a prisoner of war.

The production gives Shakespeare some interesting twists, including the regendering of Ulysses and Aeneas, which helps them stand out in the otherwise all-male Greek camp, and the addition of a chorus, giving the play an appropriate air of the Greek tragedy. A brilliant production of an excellent play: how better to fill 3rd week?

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