Troilus and Cressida

Performance history

The play's puzzling and intriguing nature has meant that Troilus and Cressida has rarely been popular on stage, and neither during Shakespeare's own lifetime nor between 1734 and 1898 is there any recorded performance of the play. In the Restoration, it was rewritten by John Dryden, who stated that he intended to uncover the "jewels" of Shakespeare's verse, hidden beneath a "heap of rubbish" (not only some "ungrammatical" and indecorous expressions, but also much of the plot). In addition to his "improvements" to the language, Dryden streamlined the council scenes and sharpened the rivalry between Ajax and Achilles. Dryden's largest change, though, was in the character of Cressida, who in his play is loyal to Troilus throughout. The play was also condemned by the Victorians for its explicit sexual references (though the sex, while explicitly and importantly present, is portrayed satirically and highly negatively). It was not staged in its original form until the early 20th century, but since then, it has become increasingly popular, especially after the First World War, owing to its cynical depiction of immorality and disillusionment. Because certain aspects of the play, such as the breaking of one's public oaths during a protracted wartime and the decay of morality among Cressida and the Greeks resonated strongly with a discontented public, the play was staged with greater frequency during and after this period.

Modern revivals

In July 2009, the Hudson Shakespeare Company of New Jersey presented a production as part of their annual Shakespeare in the Parks series. Director Jon Ciccarelli set the action in ancient Greece but sought to put a modern twist on the action by comparing the title pair to Romeo and Juliet and posing the question, "would their relationship have lasted if they had lived?". Ciccarelli hypothesized that Shakespeare knew the answer and that it was "no, it would not have lasted". He stated that Troilus and Cressida pine for each other, like their more famous counterparts, and share a passionate evening, however, the morning after Troilus is eager to leave. Cressida is later exiled from Troy and quickly takes up with another man proving "love at first sight" is fickle and fleeting. Other notable departures show that the Greek Heroes are anything but heroic, showing Shakespeare satirized revered figures like Achilles as childish and barbaric and sympathizing with the pragmatic Hector.[6]

This content is from Wikipedia. GradeSaver is providing this content as a courtesy until we can offer a professionally written study guide by one of our staff editors. We do not consider this content professional or citable. Please use your discretion when relying on it.