"A Vibrant and Energetic Production"
by Paul Ackroyd for remotegoat on 08/10/16

Troilus and Cressida is one of Shakespeare's more difficult plays. It is does not fit neatly into any particular theatrical genre; it has elements of comedy, history, tragedy and romance. In performance the play is often dull ;characterised by long and often un-engaging dialogue between a confusingly large cast of characters. To The Elephant's production, previously at the Edinburgh fringe and now playing at the Rose Bankside, however, is a vibrant energetic and pacy production.

It has been significantly cut, running to only 80 mins without an interval, and is performed by a large cast of young talented actors. The director Kate Littlewood has staged it imaginatively in the archaeological site of the original Rose Theatre on Bankside using not only the playing space in front of the small audience but also the far side of the archaeological site. The director and the cast have gone out of their way to make the often difficult text as intelligible as possible, and the dialogue was clear and comprehensible and the pace of the production never faltered. The fight scenes were effectively choreographed by fight director Tom Jordan.

Performances were universally strong and there was a palpable sexual chemistry between Troilus ( Louis Bowen) and Cressida ( (Isabel Sutton). One of the advantages of the severe cutting of the text was that the story of these two lovers occupied a more important part of the story than it does in a full text version where it tends to get lost amongst all the other character interactions. All the cast were of a similar age and no effort was made to " age up " the older characters and I think this is a play where the tensions between the generations is important. For example although Sam Perry managed to depict as a Pandarus as cynical and louche the depravity of his efforts to encourage the young lovers into bed; "press it to death ", would have been all the greater had he been 30 years older than them.

One of the disadvantages of cutting the text so heavily is that there is insufficient time to develop and explain the role and interaction of some of the characters. This plus some some gender blind casting and doubling created a certain amount of character confusion. Costume designer Tessa Kemp had dressed the cast simply in gowns and cloaks representing the classical setting of the Trojan Wars but a more obvious distinction of styles between the Greek and Trojan camps would have helped the audience identify the characters.

This is one of the most engaging productions of this difficult play that I have seen and I would thoroughly recommend it. I think it would be a good introduction to anyone unfamiliar with the text providing the synopsis is carefully read beforehand.

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