Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare. Analysis of Modern Performances
The Bell Shakespeare Company s play Troilus+Cressida Directed by Michael Bogdanov is an example of the many re-skinned Shakespearean plays that emerge out of obscurity to challenge social mores in modern society. Troilus+Cressida, based in the 10 year war for a whore (Helen played by Helen Thompson) between the citizens of Troy and the Greeks, encompasses two contrasting notions of Love and War. These combine to create a world that does away with and is displaced from a normal world.
Remarkably, this world of rampant voyeurism and unashamed decadence resembles that of our own. This sensation of d j vu is summed up when you realise what Bogdanov is trying to do. The use of camcorders by the characters which are hooked to a bank of Televisions so that the audience can clearly perve on intimate private moments, is a deliberate aim at society s infatuation with reality TV. Even the Fight scene between Ajax and Hector conjure up images of tacky WWF-eskque programs that have a disturbingly popular following. Bogdanov achieves a sense of parody and satire at the emotionally comfortable distancing this has on society. The lack of commitment exists not only in the world of Troilus+Cressida but in our world as well. That is to say, desensitising has and is occurring en masse, as the world becomes adapted to the horrors of the world including war.
However, in spite of these very provocative ideas, Troilus+Cressida still leaves some things to be desired, like the many flat, almost embarrassing scenes the play goes through. One example is the main war scene, which seems a remarkably docile and complex event, instead of exploding with vehement and black male rage of war.
Achilles (played by Marcus Eyre) is portrayed as an obese, Homosexual Couch potato, who actually spends a large amount of time in an easy chair, a can of beer at his hand, staring at the Television Hardly the type of manly warrior that is known in the Legends of Troy.
The business of war falls as a backdrop to the event of love between the two main characters, Troilus (Toby Truslove) and Cressida (Blazey Best). Whilst Troilus is a character that has been moulded in to shape by the strong patriarchal world of Troy coupled with the amplification of this patriarchy by the war, and thus he seems truncated when compared to Cressida. Cressida is more of a product of her world, rather that a conforming member. In the opening scene of Troilus+Cressida we are introduced to Cressida, and immediately words such as slut spring to mind she is dressed no doubt to please her masters men. At the same time, we meet the man who is responsible for her direction, her uncle Pandarus. In this brief time we see how Cressida has been trained to behave a certain way event though she still possesses the initial innocence of a girl, all confusion is dispersed about her inclination towards the opposite sex.
This notion of forced change in Cressida is a disturbing thought, but the context of war makes it acceptable to these people especially Pandarus, to teach his niece the art of seduction, and ambiguity of her body as the property of men. No doubt, this introduction provokes the audience to project their view upon Cressida. As the play progresses, Troilus and Cressida are encouraged into romance by the ever-present Pandarus. However, this event seems hollow, the only real emotion of love between these two will be felt when the make love, not talk it. However, this plastic romance is snapped by the development that Cressida is to be swapped with the Greeks in return for one of Troy s captured soldiers. This event only concerns Cressida, as she realises that her real worth is nothing, she is merely a toy something to be used and thrown away.
The reaction of Troilus is almost indifferent. Due mainly to his patriarchal upbringing, his view upon Cressida has left him with an attitude of let it go here the plastic nature of their romance is fully exposed, if indeed, love has a transgressional quality that should have spurred Troilus to protect Cressida in the face of his patriarchal world. As Cressida begins to understand where she really stands in her world precariously, she realises that she now must embrace this change and use her only assets her body, and seduction, to attach herself to a protector, and she does so, to Diomedes. Thus, she becomes the property of Diamedes.
However, Cressida s alliance to Diamedes is seen by Troilus with the aid of a camera and Ulysses, and his enraged at her betrayal. It is ironic, however, that it was he who did not resist her loss, and yet he is enraged at her.
Whilst these events unfolded, Achilles, who retires from war for reasons of pride, is spurred by his lover s Patroclus’ (Derren Nesbitt) death, and goes on into battle and finds a unarmed and resting Hector, whom he unleashes his wrath by ordering his men to kill him. Hector then has his body dragged around on Achilles chariot. This sudden change in Achilles is a result of sudden dramatic change in his life beyond his control. This led to him undermining his own pride and filling Hector in such a cowardly way.
Cressida s change in self also comes from a sudden change in her life that forced her to revaluate her position in her world, and adjust for survival by attaching herself to a protector in return for the only thing she knows how to do.
The play ends suddenly, at the same time fittingly, yet infuriatingly open-ended. With the words of a disease ridden Pandarus close to death, the events of the play is justified: All s far in Love and War
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