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Love and war at the Factory
Review by Caron Parsons
Joseph Mawle and Lisa Kay  - picture by Graham Burke THIS STORY LAST UPDATED:
10 February 2003 1913 GMT


:: Troilus and Cressida

:: Tobacco Factory

:: Until Saturday 15th March
Joseph Mawle and Lisa Kay play lovers Troilus and Cressida
:: This story
> Shakespeare returns to the Factory

> Internet links

Tobacco Factory

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites
All may be fair in love and war, but the latest Shakespearean production to take over Bedminster's Tobacco Factory shows the two can be equally devastating.

Shakespeare borrows from Homer's Iliad for his tale of Troilus and Cressida, which sets Greek heroes Achilles, Agamemnon, Ulysses and Ajax against the Trojan royal dynasty of King Priam and his children Hector, Paris and young Troilus.

The play opens seven years into the nine year Trojan conflict, and, with nearly three and a half hours of dialogue, there are times when the audience starts to worry that the performance might actually last as long as the war.

Wordy

The fault though is Shakespeare's wordy speeches, rather than any lack on the part of some highly skilled Tobacco Factory actors.

A few lines were botched during the play, but with such a complex script and plethora of Greek names, the actors should be allowed a small amount of leeway.

Performances across the board were first rate, with great support from the likes of John Mackay as Ulysses - who managed to give even the driest speeches a little lift - and Ian Barritt as the cupid Pandarus.

Jamie Ballard played Thersites the fool with a touch of Rik Mayall thrown in, along with some really unpleasant-looking boils and a gamy leg.

His role was to help keep the audience in the know and he did so with a great deal of humour, and equal amount of sarcasm.

War rages

As war rages in Troy so too does love in the royal household. Paris is totally infatuated by Helen, cause of all the turmoil, and young Troilus has his heart set on the fair Cressida.

The couple are beautifully played by Lisa Kay and Joseph Mawle, with a real sense of the passion and urgency of lovers living in a land gripped by war.

But just as Romeo and Juliet are parted after
one night of passion, pulled apart by family loyalties, so too are this Shakespearean couple - and the heartache begins.

Epic play

Director Andrew Hilton brings this epic play to life with some great performances, a large cast and a simple but effective set from Andrea Montag.

One problem with working in the round is that actors are often forced to turn their backs on part of the audience.

Hilton however turns this to his advantage, keeping the actors moving around the stage meant he keeps the audience's views open, while covering any sluggishness in the script.

A couple of nice fight scenes and some great costumes, particularly for Alisdair Simpson, the snooty and treacherous Achilles, blended everything together.

So don't be put off if you are not au fait with the play, after all love and war are just as relevant now as they have ever been and this is a production well worth seeing.
"There are times when the audience starts to worry that the performance might actually last as long as the war."
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