Another solid production at Sydney's glorious Depot Theatre in Marrickville.
Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida opened at The Depot Theatre this week, presented by Secret House and starring an array of bright local talent.
It is a "problem play", a term used to describe Shakespearean works that do not clearly fit into another specific category, that follows young lovers Troilus and Cressida in their tumultuous journey of life, alongside the backing of a wider representation of the Trojan war, now in its seventh year. It is a stalemate with the Greeks surrounding Troy, wanting to rescue Helen yet unsure how, and the Trojans inside aware that the war continues due to their keeping Helen with them in Troy.
The plot of the play closely follows Homer's Iliad. Despite the title, the romance between Troilus and Cressida seems somewhat of a secondary story line to the overarching conflict between the Greek and Trojan forces. Hector, one of the sons of Priam, King of Troy, challenges the Greeks to nominate a competitor for a one-on-one duel. Potential soldiers include Ajax or Achilles, and the play follows King Agamemnon and his offsiders in identifying a suitable contestant and the conflict that thus ensues.
Director Sean O'Riordan reflects that "Shakespeare seems to be taking a cynical, satirical look not just at the great names of legend but also at the impossibility of the human condition". Amidst the wartime action are multiple reflections on relationships - those of romance, family and friendship in multifaceted forms.
The cast are sensational. Margarita Gershkovich stands out as Achilles, giving an inspired performance of a crucial character, with a healthy dose of humour. The laughter is upheld by Danen Young's Thersites, often spitting out witty wisecracks from the aisles of the audience, always with a chuckling reception.
Emilia Stubbs is eerily believable as the cursed Cassandra whose accurate prophecies are fated never to be believed.
A series of monologues is executed with class at the opening of the play, showcasing the talents of several cast members, notably Shan-Ree Tan as Ulysses. We are impressed.
In O'Riordan's words, the play "changes wildly from comedy to drama to tragedy and back again... [it] allows us to share the stage with the heroes of our bygone myths and for a short while travel with them through the experiences that we still today have to face and somehow come to terms with".
Once again, The Depot Theatre delivers a punchy, youthful, entertaining imagining of a quality piece of drama.
Directed by Sean O’Riordan. Set and Costume Design by Maya Keys. Lighting Design by Mehran Mortezaei. Fight Choreography by Scott Witts. Stage Managers: Liz Jameson and Millie Grindrod.
With Jane Angharad, Paul Armstrong, Matthew Bartlett, Alison Benstead, Alana Birtles, Leo Domingan, Alec Ebert, Margarita Gershkovich, Francisco Lopez, Jonathon Nicholas, Grace Noaum, James Smithers, Romney Stanton, Emilia Stubbs Grigoriou, Shan-Ree Tan, Charles Upton, Emma Wright and Danen Young.
Image: Clare Hawley