Troilus and Cressida, Shakespeare's Globe, London
Tuesday 28 July 2009
The two "difficult" Shakespeare plays rediscovered in the past 50 years are Measure for Measure and Troilus and Cressida, and neither shows any sign yet of losing its appeal, if that's the right word, for a modern audience.
Whereas Measure needs little coaxing to reveal the taut skein of its intersecting strands of public life and private morality, Troilus can often become tangled in good intentions and the knottiness of its own arguments.
While Matthew Dunster's fine Globe production doesn't have the surface brilliance of Sam Mendes' unbeatable RSC version years ago, it does grip.
That's no mean achievement at the Globe, whose outdoor properties and shuffling patrons suit the Bard's flourishes more than his denser passages. But nobody speaks in the play without being certain of that which he means, and that takes us through the philosophical passages, war-mongering debates and historical contextualising with minimal fuss.
Troilus is, above all, a sociopolitical document of decay and disease during an endless war, the point of which most people have forgotten. Its heroes have become empty vessels, its victims marginalised nonentities, and Thersites roams the field spraying all participants in contempt and abuse.
Paul Hunter's embittered little Greek creep doesn't have the disgusted authority and sense of spiritual independence that Simon Russell Beale once managed, but he does represent the verminous reality of a voice of protest no one much heeds any more.
The Greeks, camped outside Troy for seven years with no sign of a solution, are otherwise represented by strutting demigods, living legends, such as Matthew Flynn's powerful Agamemnon, the commander-in-chief, and Trystan Gravelle's preening, over-made-up Welsh-accented Achilles, lolling in a muslin boudoir with his companion Patroclus (Beru Tessema).
Against this background, the enthusiastic calf love of Paul Stocker's troubled Troilus and Laura Pyper's sweetly determined Cressida is positive and refreshing. Even when taunted by the Greeks, and apparently seduced by Jay Taylor's very attractive Diomedes, Pyper remains resolutely alive and alert, totally unfazed.
To 20 September (020-7401 9919; www.shakespeares-globe.org)
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Doctor Who film will definitely happen, leaked Sony emails reveal
Glastonbury 2015 tickets: How to make sure you’re successful in Sunday's re-sale
The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer has leaked – watch
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling