Troilus and Cressida (2012): Royal Shakespeare Company, Swan Theatre
PrTroilus and Cressida (2012)
PRINCIPAL CAST: Joe Dixon (Achilles); Ari Fliakos (Hector); Scott Handy (Ulysses); Marin Ireland (Cressida); Greg Mehrten (Pandarus); Clifford Samuel (Patroclus); Scott Shepherd (Troilus); Zubin Varla (Thersites).
The first performance of this production took place on 3 August 2012. It was a co-production of the RSC and New York alternative theatre company The Wooster Group with the Americans playing the Trojans and the British actors playing the Greeks. The production was rehearsed largely separately, taking place simultaneously in New York and the UK before combining towards the end of the rehearsal process. The British director Rupert Goold had arranged the co-production and was scheduled to direct the British portion, but left the project before rehearsals began. Goold was replaced by playwright Mark Ravenhill.
"British classical theatre collides with the New York avant-garde in this Anglo-American attempt to elucidate one of Shakespeare's most problematic plays....Performed by The Woosters as Native Americans, the Trojans are spiritually sophisticated and all use radio microphones, a device that gives a strange separation to their speech. The Brits are more traditional and have a firm grip on the language....The problem is that the two companies operate from opposing theatrical principles and the styles never gel. Like a car crash it exerts a moribund fascination but car crash it undoubtedly is. The only survivor is Shakespeare and he remains in intensive care." ~ Neil Norman, Daily Express, 10 August 2012, in Theatre Record 2012, Issue 16 - 17
"The RSC's avenging Greeks are clad in military kit (with a few exceptions - sulking Achilles, conspicuously unready for action in just a bathtowel and tattoos, his beloved Patroclus, who totters around in natty gold high heels, and Zubin Varla's waspish Thersites, brilliantly realised as a wheelchair-bound Northern drag queen)....LeCompte and Ravenhill's elegantly disturbing production builds a powerful sense of beleaguered humanity, with strong performances from Marin Ireland as a sly Cressida and Joe Dixon as a pouting Achilles." ~ Jane Shilling, "Troilus with teepes and high heels", Daily Telegraph, 10 August 2012
"Politically, there is something questionable about modern white Americans appropriating past tribal customs; and, however authentic the war cries and dances, the actors can't help resembling extras in a Bob Hope western....Things are not much better on the Greek side, where Ravenhill obliges some talented actors, initially clad in combat fatigues, to indulge in flamboyant posturing. In case we miss the point about Achilles's sexual ambivalence, Joe Dixon turns up for a pre-battle feast in a scarlet evening gown. Zubin Varla also delivers Thersites's running commentary on wars and lechery as a wheelchair-using transvestite." ~ Michael Billington, "Military mayhem as Crocodile Dundee enters the Trojan War", 10 August 2012