Troilus & Cressida at Riverside Studios: An experiment too far
I'm not purist about Shakespeare. I don't mind a bit of experiment, bit of tinkering, contemporary settings, cuts, scenes being rearranged etc just as long as there is a point and it is done well and doesn't get in the way of telling the story.
So I wasn't bothered that the Trojans in the RSC/Wooster Group co-production of Troilus and Cressida were styled as Native American's, played by American actors and the Greeks were dressed in modern military gear and played by Brits. It was a nice distinction.
What I was bothered about, to the point where I made a sharp exit at the interval, was incoherence in delivery and performance and the numerous inexplicable and distracting details.
This was a multimedia performance, a description that always makes my heart sink because it is rarely done with any real purpose or well. The multimedia consisted of four TV screens playing snippets of Native Americans and old films which, I noticed about three quarters into the first half, the actors would occasionally ape. So in a love scene between Troilus and Cressida the actors movements would mimic a love scene being played on the screens from an old black and white movie.
It was perfectly timed but added nothing other than to distract you from what was being said on stage and in the case of the aforementioned scene highlighted the lack of chemistry and emotion between the two stage actors.
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