Troilus and Cressida

  • Katharine Goodland
  • John O’Connor
Part of the A Directory of Shakespeare in Performance Series book series (DSP)


It’s a bit of a mystery why Wood—newly arrived as the NAC’s English-language artistic director—chose “Troilus” to make his directorial debut here… As the critic-scholar John Gellner put it: Shakespeare is here addressing that small portion of mankind that can give itself to the intellectual enjoyment of an undiluted caustic … (The play) should be labelled ‘Poison’ and taken from the shelf only when the rats of the world are on the march. And our own, Wood apparently feels, is just such an age. He’s probably not far wrong. Certainly Troilus has an extremely ‘modern’ feel to it, an anti-heroic viewpoint very much like the prevailing one… Wood has done everything he could to accent that rather anti-Vietnam feeling and make the play as current and accessible as possible. He gave it a clean, wide-open staging, took a naturalistic approach which included lots of sexual overtones and nudity, and even gave the language an unusually contemporary feel. When Troilus turns to his servant, for example, and barks “Sirrah, walk off” it is spoken—and reacted to—just as if he’d used a lower, and very current, four-letter verb. A titter of amused recognition swept through the audience. The set (by John Ferguson) is a round, unadorned space with two 30-foot high gold platforms in the back. They serve as everything from a steam bath (lots of casual nudity as the Trojans debate giving Helen back), to a balcony, to bleachers where the assembly watches Hector battle Ajax… The accent is entirely on the open and functional—without being overly ‘modernistic’… Benedict Campbell, as Troilus, is just out of theatre school and one of the recruits picked up in an English scouting trip. Jennifer Dale, as the faithless Cressida, is a year out of National Theatre School, and has only a summer at Stratford behind her.


Steam Bath Locker Room British Army Theatre School Colorful Scene 
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Copyright information

© Katharine Goodland and John O’Connor 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katharine Goodland
  • John O’Connor

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