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Troilus And Cressida

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#61 xanderl

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Posted 11 August 2012 - 04:39 PM

So ... I think this is pretty good! It has been cut somewhat - now running at 3 hours 10. They may have tweaked the sound mix too as the Wooster dialogue was perfectly audible.

Reactions were mixed - quite a few empty seats after the interval and some grumbling on the way out

To be honest I'd like to see a Wooster-only performance  - there were points when I was getting into the rhythm of what they were doing, then the RSC types wandered on and started acting and stuff.
"witty ... both made me laugh but also gave me pause" - Mark Shenton, The Stage

#62 igb

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 05:17 PM

View Postxanderl, on 11 August 2012 - 10:48 AM, said:

I assumed that too.

Billers gives a rave review to Coriolan/us today so he's clearly not averse to radical approaches to Shakespeare

I'm not sure how radical that is (or maybe I'm more radical than I thought).  I saw Coriolanu/us last night, with my wife and children, all of whom enjoyed it.  I'll review it on the appropriate thread and throw a link across.

ETA: http://www.whatsonst...ntw-coriolanus/

#63 Epicoene

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 06:34 AM

Rupert Goold did well to disassociate himself from this heap big travesty.

In concept it is an excellent idea to bring the two styles together but the execution here is terrible. Right from the start it is a very very bad idea for the Wooster Group to have white actors dress up as comedy Native Americans complete with Brocket 99 joke accents, long black Woolworth's wigs,  and laughable primary-school level chanting and war dances - it is just a joke and (frankly) a somewhat offensive one.

On the RSC side it was a big mistake to allow Mark Revenhill to direct it as the RSC Christmans Panto - they should have directed their scenes in the RSC tradition - I mean what normal RSC production of the play would ever have Ajax prancing around as a WWF wrestler in a comedy fat suit for the duration ?

On a technical level, as the Wooster Group work extensively with video what is the point of having it projected only on tiny TV screens on which the audience can't see the action or text properly ? Their mirroring of film scenes was the most interesting aspect of the production yet we couldn't see it properly.

As usual with these types of productions (and those of Katie Mitchell) the positive reviews (like the Telegraph) assume the interval walk-outs (plenty when I saw it) are people who are offended or too unsophisticated to appreciate the production - but most times (as here) it is people who are totally bored or frustrated by such a poor production.

#64 Honoured Guest

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 02:16 PM

Ajax appeared to be a homage to Brian Blessed who, believe it or not, has acted in RSC main house Shakespeare.

#65 Epicoene

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 02:28 PM

View PostHonoured Guest, on 29 August 2012 - 02:16 PM, said:

Ajax appeared to be a homage to Brian Blessed who, believe it or not, has acted in RSC main house Shakespeare.

Yes I have seen him, well-cast as the "bloat King" in Hamlet - as he played the Ghost in the Branagh film of the piece I wonder if anyone else has ever played both brothers in the play ? Probably, but I can't think of any.

The playing of Thersites as a drag queen, noted as good in several reviews, was in fact directly lifted from the Cheek by Jowl production of some years ago.

As you have now seen Troilus what did you make of it ? Better/worse than other Wooster Group productions you have seen ?

#66 Honoured Guest

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 03:05 PM

I haven't posted what I made of it because I don't entirely trust my reactions. I got too wound up beforehand by much of the adverse commentary. I'd seen two TWG shows before and much preferred the first (1986) which I found hard work to get my head around and which was largely original in all elements. My second (perhaps early '90s) was a version of a play (perhaps Chekhov) and I was frustrated and confused, trying to work out how and why they'd made their interventions, transformations, adaptations, spins, etc..

I was surprised that their T&C was so coherent and understandable as a spoken play. I was easily hooked by their performance and held, not bored or alienated, throughout the evening. I was particularly intrigued by the controlled physicality and the idiosyncratic movement, and occasionally I was aware of the "blocking" imitating the figures in the video. The actors' voices helped me follow the lines, in conjunction with my watching the actors. I certainly didn't come away with a rich comprehension of Shakespeare's play, but I did enjoy a rich theatrical experience.

I regret that I agree with what you say about the RSC half, directed by Mark Ravenhill. For my taste, they relied too heavily on speaking the text, with merely a succession of silly costumes and a few props as a feeble attempt to contextualise it. Whereas TWG had a full stage design, the RSC had none. I suppose you could say that's the Swan Theatre tradition but it was inadequate here for the RSC half because their direction was so threadbare and scattergun.

For me, your comment "it is just a joke" could be used to encapsulate how I perceive TWG. Their shows lay bare all their component elements and invite the audience to think, moment to moment, element by element: "Why did they do that? What was that about?" and laugh in one second at a quip delivered by Pandarus while simultaneously following a sustained mood of Troilus.

#67 Epicoene

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 06:13 AM

View PostHonoured Guest, on 29 August 2012 - 03:05 PM, said:

For me, your comment "it is just a joke" could be used to encapsulate how I perceive TWG.

My problem is that their crass caricaturing of a different ethnic group would be totally unacceptable in other contexts (for example in a TV variety show) but here as they are branded as "experimental" and appeal to a notably liberal audience it is apparently OK and "ironic" I suppose. Nicholas Hytner gets away with this too. It was interesting to see a notably left-wing comedian in the audience meekly watching the whooping and war dances when in other contexts he would have built his act around condemning it.

#68 Honoured Guest

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 08:41 AM

I know what you mean and I think that the portrayal of Thersites teetered on the edge of this issue. Personally, I didn't have that problem with TWG because they don't create characters in the RSC tradition. They craft performances based on various references and pursuing various experiments. One of the references is the portrayal of those characters in popular culture. One of my main interests throughout TWG performance was in trying to break down what I was watching into authentic behaviour, real emotion, cliched cinematic representation, "crass caricature", etc.. For example, I was following Troilus's performance, during his quite lengthy speeches towards the end, when we're quite familiar with the show, in at least three ways at once. That's what I meant by "rich theatrical experience". In fact, this experimental performance texture helped me to follow the language, whereas usually I tend to lose the thread of Shakespearean language, however well-spoken, when it's the principal element in performance. That was my problem with much of the RSC half where they often simply stood and spoke, so that when I struggled with the language there was nothing else in the performance to hold on to.

#69 igb

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 09:13 AM

View PostHonoured Guest, on 30 August 2012 - 08:41 AM, said:

I know what you mean and I think that the portrayal of Thersites teetered on the edge of this issue. Personally, I didn't have that problem with TWG because they don't create characters in the RSC tradition. They craft performances based on various references and pursuing various experiments. One of the references is the portrayal of those characters in popular culture.

The same argument, mutatis mutandi, could be used as the justification for a relaunch on BBC1 prime-time of The Black and White Minstrel Show.  These Welsh men aren't creating characters in the Play for Today tradition, they are crafting performances based on various references and pursuing various experiments.  One of the references is the portrayal of black characters in popular culture.

#70 Honoured Guest

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 09:47 AM

I assume you post in jest, igb. If not, I suppose you think some inviolable line was crossed in T&C. I disagree.





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