My birthday treat this year was a pair of tickets to see a live-streamed production of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Troilus & Cressida. To find out more about live-streamed theatre productions and how you can watch them too, this previous post will be helpful.
Troilus & Cressida is a love story that unfolds in the midst of the Trojan war. With the Greek army camped at their walls, tensions are mounting in the besieged city. Troilus and Cressida must negotiate a tangle of betrayal and deceit if they are to remain true to one another.
I had very limited knowledge of Troilus & Cressida but given my love for both Shakespeare and Ancient Greek mythology, opting for a production that combined the two seemed like a safe bet! The gamble certainly paid off. It was wonderful to recognise characters such as Achilles and Hector, names that have been familiar to me since my childhood perusal of mythical stories but re-imagined in ways that rendered the story unpredictable.
I found the plot easy to follow – which was a good thing given that I had pretty much zero knowledge of the play! A play about the Trojan war comes with the expectations of a certain amount of spectacle, and this was certainly delivered with the battle scenes. However, a great deal of the drama also comes from the secrets, lies and manipulation that happens behind the battlefield.
The Royal Shakespeare Company did a fantastic job of rendering Shakespeare’s characters in all their complexity and intrigue. I found Cressida particularly fascinating; she is a strong-willed survivor in a world that is teetering in the uncertain balance of war. The difficulty I had in fathoming her thoughts and motivations certainly added to the play’s depth.
However, my favourite character has to be Thersites. For a play categorised as tragedy, she generated a surprising amount of comedy and some wonderfully unexpected laughter!
The suspense of the performance was greatly enhanced by the music from star percussionists. My knowledge of music may be limited, but I know that the play definitely wouldn’t have been the same without it. Creative staging also contributed to the apocalyptic atmosphere.
Do you have any questions, discussion points, or simply want to share your experience of Troilus & Cressida? Please do let me know in the comments; I would love to hear from you!