Swords n sandals.

Troilus and Cressida. Globe Theatre 24 August 2009. London .Directed by Matthew Dunster

It has been the season for ticking off the ‘unseen Shakespeare’ on the list. Gone was Cymbeline; off the list was Julius Caesar-and at the Globe I could now tick off Troilus and Cressida.
There is something quite refreshing about seeing a 400 year old play and not really knowing the story. Something to do with the Trojan War was about all I knew. The only other few things I knew before heading into the theatre was some of the cast names. Jamie Ballad was apparently playing Ulysses- one of those actors who is always outstanding and who I had seen in two or three different production before. The rather splendid (and splendidly easy on the eye ) Trystan Gravelle and indeed Matthew Kelly.

Yes. That’s right. Matthew Kelly- long lost presenter of cheesy hit TV show Stars in their eyes. That Mathew Kelly.

It was a lovely warm sunny day and after sitting in the queue to get a good view at the front of the crowd and eating a modest repast of beef sandwich followed by delicious and refreshing orange juice (take cover those of you who now the hyperactive effect this induces in me) I got ready to enjoy a little Troilus.
Now in a polite way this was rather a camp production. Matthew Kelly was camper than a row of tents, but with just enough seedy undercurrent to make his Pandarus really rather unpleasant and yet ultimately quite pathetic. There were a lot of rather lovely young men running about in little more than short togas and sandals (beware standing too near the front as at least twice there were a few unsightly moments) and beautiful ladies in thin togas and lots of eye makeup. It was all rather glorious darling, however this highlighted the theatricality and ultimate futility of all the male posturing between the Greeks and Trojans. Achilles (a heavily eye-lined Trystan Gravelle) spent most of the play strolling about in a bit of a big-girls blouse sulk whilst Ulysses (an excellent as always Jamie Ballad) did the thinking for everyone.

Of course as with any good Shakespeare it was not all burly men fighting it out; the passion between Troilus (a young and handsome Paul Stocker.) and the delightful Cressida (Laura Pyper; feisty and convincing.) was tender, youthful and compelling. Which made it all the more saddening to watch its failure after Cressida is taken to the Greek camp. Helen of Troy was a spoilt and lascivious wench, flashing her gold and purple pants a lot at Paris (Ben Bishop; the saddest bit of casting I have ever seen at the Globe; I found it hard to believe she would have run off with him when surrounded by a multitude of handsome Greeks) There was a particularly fine ‘jazz hands’ scene when Pandarus sings to Helen and her cronies. Ridiculous and wickedly funny. Christopher Colquhoun was excellent as Hector; an upstanding a proper chap. So when he is cut down unarmed by Achilles boy-soldiers there were a few huffs and gasps from the audience.
This was rather gorgeous production, dramatic and comic.


Popular Posts