“The present eye praises the present object,” was given a modern twist during The Clarice’s contemporary version of Troilus and Cressida, one of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays.
The script was originally written in 1602, but director Matthew R. Wilson adapted and edited the play to reflect modern-day personas.
As a production presented by UMD School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies, or TDPS, the show will continue through Saturday, Feb. 20.
The plot and characters were completely focused on the glory and excitement of the present. Who will beat whom? Is the girl worth the fight?
In the year that commemorates the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, this modern production masterfully exhibits the universal legacy of his work.
Characters expressed their immature, spiteful and naïve nature in an all-too-relatable high school setting with brave warriors and swooning damsels replaced by popular athletes and gossiping cheerleaders.
Themes focused on labels, worth and the dynamics of pride and glory.
Troilus, played by Noah Israel, began the show alone on center stage wearing a draped Grecian dress and speaking behind a gold Volto mask that emphasized the drama and history of such a play.
As the stage brightened, he stripped off his dress, mask and heavy thespian accent, and became an all-American, popular high school football player playing for the “Trojans,” followed by cheering Trojan fans, a mascot and a huge “GO TROY!” banner.
Cressida, played by Ashley Pugmire, is a young romantic who swears her love to Troilus, yet replaces him nearly five seconds later for Diomedes, a more exciting player on the opposing Greek team. This story of high school romance, petty fights and heartless deceit is one that audience members could relate to.
Colors and lighting were directly symbolic throughout each scene: red for Trojans and blue for the Greeks, while brightness reflected hope and darkness foresaw doom.
Costumes reflected labels. Most of the warriors wore their representative “athletic armor.” A fool, such as Thersites, played by Christina O’Brien, dressed as a waterboy, while prophetess Cassandra, played by Marina di Marzo, wore a rebellious, dark outfit.
Her plaid skirt with chains and dark makeup were symbolic of a “rebellious” high school stereotype. When she warned her “popular” countrymen about the near future, they rejected and mocked her.
Music included popular and familiar tracks from Taylor Swift and Katy Perry with an ironic twist, like the use of Ke$ha’s “Die Young” pop song before a battle.
The constant references to modern life and drama using costumes, music and props- like cellphones – turned a 17th century play into an everyday high school tale.
Performers encouraged audience members to clap during a battle scene, but minimally interacted during other scenes. I felt that greater character/audience involvement would have created a more excited and involved audience, as the show lasts around two and a half hours. Yet this script only covered about 60 percent of the original play, as explained by dramaturg Sara Thompson.
The play was performed in the Robert and Arlene Kogod Theatre where a stage splits the audience in two, allowing for audience members to observe each other’s expressions and reactions.
Attendees seemed to have enjoyed the comedy, romance and modern relevance of this Shakespearean classic. In its entirety, it was an entertaining and thought-provoking contrast between “Classicism and Class of ’15.”
Featured Photo Credit: Taken by Stan Barouh.
Racquel Royer is a freshman journalism major and may be reached at Royer.firstname.lastname@example.org.