Comment from New York: TROILUS AND CRESSIDA

by Lynn on August 7, 2016

in The Passionate Playgoer

Central Park, New York.

Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Daniel Sullivan

Note: This is not a review because I saw a preview. It’s a ‘no-no’ to review previews unless it’s a late one. This was early days so I will comment on everything but the acting, production etc.

I went to New York to see this because my friend John Glover was in it playing Pandarus. We support our friends in their theatrical endeavors.

Seeing Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacourt Theatre is a wonderful experience. The structure is permanent. The seats fan out around the playing space. The seats are functional and as comfortable as one can be with plastic seats. The ushers are sweet, charming, energetic and passionate about working there.

There was a cross-section of folks in the audience; they were all ages, spread over the social spectrum and there were a cross section of ethnicities. I loved that. And as the recorded announcement of Artistic Director Oscar Eustis said, it was completely free. That got a lot of applause. Granted folks have to line up early in the day to secure the tickets but still—free. Or in my case, I e-mailed John and asked him to arrange the tickets, which he did. Lovely guy.

Routinely the place ‘sells out.’ It was a lovely night. People were in a good mood. This being previews, director Daniel Sullivan wandered around the space with his note pad in hand, looking for a seat from which he could view the production.

Troilus and Cressida is not often done anywhere let alone in a park. It’s a story of war, love, politics, honour, manipulation etc. The Greeks and the Trojans have been at it for years. Paris ran off with Helen who was married to Menelaus. What’s a wronged husband to do? He rallies the troops and they go to war. It’s a war that lasted 10 years.

Troilus is a soldier. Cressida is a young woman who is a Trojan.and the niece of Pandarus. Pandarus brokers the meeting of Troilus and Cressida who have glanced at each other from afar and liked what they saw. This being war things did not go smoothly.

Things did not go smoothly in this production either. David Harbour was cast as Achilles, who in the play did not want to fight in the war. He made a promise to his wife and wanted to spend with his male lover-. Achilles was tricked? duped? Into fighting and again, it didn’t go well. These aren’t spoilers. It’s ancient history. In any case, Mr. Harbour was cast as Achilles and during rehearsal he hurt, ripped? shredded? his Achilles heel and needed surgery which would put him in crutches for three weeks by which time the show would have closed. Enter Mr. Keilyn Durrel Jones the understudy for Achilles who had a rehearsal that day to learn the blocking. He went on and seemed dandy to me. At the bow the whole company applauded him. He beamed. Someone from the line of actors pushed him forward for a solo bow for his Herculean (Achillean?) efforts. He beamed more. I got teary. I love stuff like this. And in the hard world of theatre, Mr. Jones did not play Achilles for the rest of the run. Another actor did. Still I liked Mr. Jones.

After that John, our friend Tandy and John’s husband Adam went for food and a beverage. John played Pandarus with a limp. John does not limp. We asked where that came from. John said that in the 45 minute boot-camp exercises the cast does each day he sprained a muscle the second day of the exercises. He decided that would be right for Pandarus so he kept it in. I just love this man for his wonderful talent, invention, imagination and constant efforts to dig into his characters.

Produced by The Public Theatre

I saw this: June 26, 2017.
Closes: Aug. 14, 2016.

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