Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida is an interesting play to study, but tough to stage and harder still to produce in a way that makes it accessible to a live audience. But Northwest Classical Theatre Company (NWCTC) has been steadily working their way through the Bard's oeuvre, and it had to come sooner or later. Troilus and Cressida is a tragedy with bawdy comic elements, moving scattershot between multiple plot lines and dramatic styles. None of the characters are well developed and none emerge as heroes or even antiheroes in what has become known as one of Shakespeare's "problem plays." It's most notable, actually, as a philosophical treatise on a senseless war that leaves everything it touches hollowed out and dehumanized. Thrillsville!
Thankfully, NWCTC doesn't try to "update" Shakespeare, and we're saved from the kind of "re-visioning" that so many companies fall prey to. NWCTC's Artistic Director Grant Turner is committed to letting the plays speak for themselves, diligently stripping back any ostentatious production elements to focus on character, performance, and language. If you want to introduce someone to Shakespeare, take them to a NWCTC show: The language is clear and unmuddied and delivered by actors who actually know what they're saying well enough to communicate it to an audience.
In this production, costumes, scenery, and props are minimal; Turner and his cast understand and own the text, and let it speak for itself—and they've done a great job, especially for a script that mostly consists of people standing around talking. Even better, Turner made many judicious cuts to get the play, which can run up to three hours long, down to a very manageable hour and a half.
As ever, some performances are stronger than others, and Turner steals his own show as the clown character Thersites. A sort of one-man chorus, he offers commentary and context to drive the play along. The rest of the cast doesn't have quite the same agility with the material, but the ensemble effort is strong. So give it a shot: There's nothing to lose. It's outside, it's free, and you'll get to see a rarely performed play done as close to the way it should be done as you're ever going to see in this town.