Tour: Almada, Lagoa, Braga
Unpublished in Portugal, the play Troilus and Cressida, by William Shakespeare, debuts this year in a co-production between ACTA - The Theatre Company of the Algarve, CTA – Almada Theatre Company and CTB - Braga Theatre Company, directed by Joaquim Benite and José Martins. Written between 1602 and 1603 - therefore contemporary of Hamlet, - the play was neglected until late nineteenth century, being pointed out various inconsistencies (could it be a comedy or a tragedy?) and, up to a certain extent, somewhat scandalous. The love story between the hero Troilus - the youngest son of Priam, king of the city of Troy – and the Greek Cressida, that takes place in Troy already besieged by the Greeks - is just one of the weaves in this drama, more interested in demonstrating the pusillanimity of the Greek Achilles, whose refusal to fight costs Nestor and Ulysses persuasive appeals for a change of attitude.
Cressida's infidelity – a medieval character who intrudes here - the deletion of Troilus and the death of Hector at the hands of Achilles, mark the downfall of a heroic world, particularly appealing to contemporary directors, disillusioned by a world of successive wars and misunderstandings.
Being the queen close to her death (Elizabeth I of England died in 1603), William Shakespeare wrote Troilus and Cressida, a play in which - according to Peter Ackroyd, author of Shakespeare/The biography – ‘all beliefs and certainties of the life in the Court are treated as material for black humour and laughter. Shakespeare tries [here] to deliberately subvert the legend of Troy. It’s a play in which orthodox beliefs on Trojan courage and Greek bravery are inverted, revealing a harsh reality, brutal and hypocritical underlying the actions of both sides. The only values are the ones time and fashion sell: to sell is the right word here, since all values are goods to buy and to sell in the market.
Troilus and Cressida is a savage and satirical comedy about themes of love and war, which treats both as false and fickle. [...] The words of Shakespeare are magnetic. All particles of a decadent Court culture, a decadent world of individual heroism and nobility went through his being.’