Audience notes: theatrical mist, fog and strobe lights are used in this production. There is the sound of gunfire and explosions.
Seven years have passed since the start of the Trojan War, set in motion when Paris, a Trojan, snatched the beauti-ful Helen away from her Greek kin. The war stands in a stalemate with the Greek army camped outside Troy. One Trojan warrior, Troilus, refuses to go to battle due to his deep ardor for Cressida, also a citizen of Troy. Cressida’s scheming uncle, Pandarus, agrees to be the warrior’s messenger and sings Troilus’ praises to his niece. Left alone, Cressida confesses that she loves Troilus in return.
Meanwhile, in the Greek camp, the warrior Ulysses warns his fellow commanders that the absence of the legend-ary Achilles from battle has compromised the morale of the other fighters. Achilles spends his days in bed with his lover, Patroclus, mocking the cause. A visiting Trojan warrior, Aeneas, challenges the Greek camp to send forward a fighter for single combat with Hector the following day. Though the Greeks believe the Trojans are baiting Achil-les, they resolve to put forward the brutish Ajax to incite Achilles’ jealousy.
In Troy, Priam’s sons argue whether Helen is worth the protracted conflict. Hector claims that his brother Paris should give her up. Later, Pandarus arranges a secret meeting for Troilus and Cressida in which they exchange oaths of devotion and spend the night together. Unbeknownst to them, Cressida’s father, Calchas, a defector, pleads with the Greeks to have a valuable prisoner, Antenor, traded to Troy in exchange for his daughter. When the Greek soldiers come for Cressida, the lovers vow to be faithful to each other.
Hector comes to the Greek camp to see his match, and Ajax takes up the challenge. Troilus accompanies Hector and asks Ulysses to take him where Cressida is being held. Concealed, he watches as she appears to break her vow with the Greek warrior Diomedes, who takes the sleeve Troilus gave her. Troilus, disbelieving, vows to attack Dio-medes.
In the final battle, Diomedes and Ajax pursue and fight with Troilus. Patroclus is killed, sending Achilles into fear-some rage. He comes upon the unarmed Hector and slays him. As the battle ends, Troilus laments the death of Hector, vowing revenge.
This production of Troilus and Cressida is part of Shakespeare for a New Generation, a national theatre initiative sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with Arts Midwest.