BWW Reviews: TROILUS AND CRESSIDA
Whenever I read a critique of live theater, an often used trope is, "Well, it wasn't Shakespeare." Recently, however, it was. I had the delightful privlidge of attending The New American Shakespeare Tavern's performance of Troilus and Cressida. While I love Shakespeare, I am not an aficionado by any measure so to fill in the gaps I may have missed, I brought my husband along who is both a writer and an avid Shakespeare enthusiast (never ask him about this at dinner parties - you have been warned).
While I always approach ye olde English theater with a bit of hesitation, this time it simply wasn't needed. My husband got to enjoy the show without giving me cliff notes along the way thanks to the marvelous performance the company put on.
I had never seen Troilus and Cressida before that night but I can say with confidence I didn't miss a beat. In addition to being a fantastic romance that is equal parts tragedy and comedy, the cast delivered their roles with such skill and command of the human condition that you don't need to know any Shakespearian English at all to always know what is being said and what is going on.
Set during the Trojan War, the story focuses not on the war itself, but rather the romances of those other than Paris and Helen (wonderfully portrayed by Doug Grahm and Janine DeMichele). Fans of the story of the classic by Homer shouldn't fret though as the full cast of the Trojan war is assembled. Horne delivered on the role of the heroic Hector with such a convincing performance that you honestly believed him a heroic veteran of ancient wars while Vinne Mscola's Achilles starts off like a fun and pleasant breeze that turns into a full force gale by the end of the production.
It is Paul Hester's lead of Troilus who is the main character of this story though and he was immediately likeable and powerfully played. Rachel Frawley delivered what my husband told me is a classic interpretation of the character of Cressida (one more like you may have seen back when Shakespeare himself directed Shakespeare) which a Shakespeare enthusiast would appreciate.
The leads of the production, however well played, were almost out done by some of the minor characters. Jeff McKerley's Pandarus (Cressida's match-making uncle) and Joshua Diboll's Thersites were complete show stealers and the minor roles of Agamemnon (played by Matt Nitchie) and the Greek Commanders had me laughing out loud almost every time they took the stage.
Going into this not fully knowing what to expect or what the story would be was a little intimidating (as the thought of a Shakespeare play can be for those who don't speak Olde English) but the Shakespeare Tavern and their retinue of amazing actors put on such an amazing and engaging performance that even those who can barely speak modern English would find themselves laughing and crying their way through what is sure to be one of the best live performances they have ever seen. If you ever have the chance, do yourself a favor and take your friends and family to see one of the many fabulous productions they put on.
You can find their season schedule online at www.ShakespeareTavern.com. They have a large list of shows throughout the end of the year including Twelfth Night, Othello, and King Lear. The Shakespeare Tavern is located in downtown Atlanta at 499 Peachtree Street NE.