Troilus and Cressida SKINNYFest 3

Article by Jon Lynes | 14 Aug 2006
Peter Stein's production of Troilus and Cressida is a bold but ultimately flawed attempt to revivify one of Shakespeare's less frequently performed plays. Portraying itself as a diluted version of Romeo and Juliet amidst the furore of the Trojan War, the play ends up feeling inadequate in several respects, and even some very accomplished acting performances are not enough to save it.

For a three-and-a-half hour production, Troilus and Cressida lacks the fervour and spark essential to sustain it. At times dull, it is also devoid of the kind of pertinence which it lays claim to, dealing as it does with the innate futility of a prolonged and violent war. And for a play which deals largely with heroes and demigods, some of the characters do simply not exude that feeling of unconquerable invulnerability or possess the necessary physiques which the roles demand.

Imbued with some moments of wry humour, from the depiction of Ajax as a hulking dim-witted simpleton with a heart of gold, to Pandarus' voyeuristic insistence on watching Troilus and Cressida in bed together, this is not a production without its redeeming qualities. Some of the performances are striking, and Paul Jesson is particularly memorable in the role of Pandarus. But as a piece of theatre, Troilus and Cressida falls short of the mark, and despite some moments of indubitable quality, the production fails to live up to its own lofty expectations.