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Troilus and Cressida

By Altree, Claire | Shakespeare Bulletin, Spring 2007 | Go to article overview

Troilus and Cressida


Altree, Claire, Shakespeare Bulletin


Troilus and Cressida

Presented by Edinburgh International Festival in association with the Royal Shakespeare Company at the King's Theatre, Edinburgh. August 14-26, 2006. Directed by Peter Stein. Set by Ferdinand Wogerbauer. Costumes by Anna Maria Heinreich. Lighting by Japhy Weideman. Sound by Fernando Nicci. Fights by Malcolm Ranson. With Henry Pettigrew (Troilus), Annabel Scholey (Cressida), Richard Clothier (Hector), Paul Jesson (Pandarus), Adam Levy (Paris), Vincent Regan (Achilles), Ian Hughes (Thersites), Simon Armstrong (Aeneas), John Franklin- Robbins (Nestor), David Yelland (Ulysses), Oliver Kieran-Jones (Patroclus), Richard Wills-Cotton (Diomedes), Ian Hogg (Agamemnon), Roger May (Margarelon), Arthur Cox (Calchas), John Kane (Menelaus), Julian Lewis Jones (Ajax), Jeffrey Wickham (Priam), Kate Mijes (Cassandra), Rachel Pickup (Helen), and Charlotte Moore (Andromache).

The year 2006 marked an ambitious re-appraisal of the Shakespeare's Complete Works by the Royal Shakespeare Company. With the casting of well-known stars, including Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, and Judi Dench, and the presence of major theatre companies such as the Berliner Ensemble and the Teatr Piesn Kozla from Poland, it promised to be a year of groundbreaking and memorable performances. This production of Troilus and Cressida began as an integral part of Sir Brian McMaster's final season in charge of the Edinburgh International Festival, and later took up residence at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Strafford-Upon-Avon as part of the company's Complete Works series.

Peter Stein, who has a long association with the Edinburgh Festival, directed this production of Troilus and Cressida, one of Shakespeare's more problematic plays--it is both thematically and syntactically dense, combining sexual politics with an increasingly barbarous war until the audience can seemingly only conclude with Thersites, "lechery, lechery; still, wars and lechery; nothing else holds fashion." This new production contained a number of prominent achievements; most noteworthy were the effective and perceptive lighting effects, particularly during the procession of soldiers in 1.2. The vanity of war was illuminated by the strip of light beginning downstage right and traversing the stage to upstage left, upon which the warriors paraded. The scene resembled a fashion catwalk, a notion accentuated by the voyeurism of Pandarus and Cressida who stood downstage left admiring the armor-bedecked "models." Of equal note were the costumes, which certainly contributed to this ever-present impression of personal conceit and narcissism. The warriors were, for the most part, dressed in short garments during the battle scenes, and the armor (helmets, shields) was ostentatious and flamboyant.

The set was dominated by a large, movable metal wall that remained a backdrop for a majority of the play but during the final act flattened out to provide the warriors with a sloped surface on which to wage war. To both sides of the stage, Stein placed tents, which later moved to the center of the stage and connected together to provide a meeting place for Cressida and Diomedes.

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