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Troilus and Cressida (Delacorte)

Members say: Great acting, Great staging, Ambitious, Absorbing, Intense

About the show

Tony-winning director Daniel Sullivan returns to Shakespeare in the Park with this rarely produced play. Both warriors and lovers play hard to get in the Bard's surprisingly modern epic set in ancient Greece. 

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In the seventh year of the Trojan War, Troilus, a young prince, pines for the affections of Cressida, a bright young woman who knows how to play it cool. Meanwhile, the heroes of the Iliad–Ajax, Ulysses, Achilles, and the kings they serve–debate whether to return their dangerously beautiful captive Helen or continue to fight without end. Nations and lovers alike do battle in this funny, piercing drama about romance and revenge in a world at war. Presented by the Public Theater for free outdoors in Central Park.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews


“This production – so well directed by Daniel Sullivan and blessed with a cast of some two dozen top-notch actors – makes the case for ‘Troilus and Cressida’ as one of the great Shakespeare dramas, often puzzled over but hardly ever seen. The plot unfolds with clarity, and while Sullivan employs modernisms he completely honors Shakespeare’s language, and the wonderful performances make it accessible to our ears...You are unlikely to see as good in the foreseeable future." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"It’s up to a great director to guide this piece, and Sullivan handles it craftily...Aided by a powerful cast, he makes the opportunity to see this Shakespearean also-ran an unmitigated delight...It’s not really the story that grabs us in this production...Ultimately, it’s the (almost universally) stellar performances that make the play what it is...Considering how seldom this play is produced and how well it’s done, it’s worth the wait.” Full Review

New Haven Review

"Sullivan’s cast does justice to the play’s changing focus without letting any segment overstay its welcome...There’s no 'all for one, one for all,' in this war, and yet the dedication to carnage and the acceptance of wasted life seems to be the price of admission for the kinds of heroics Shakespeare and Sullivan are subtly skewering. So seldom done and here done so well, The Public's 'Troilus and Cressida' should be seen and celebrated." Full Review


"This vital production set in modern times is exactly what Shakespeare intended…This is Shakespeare at his most subversive and in a dynamite production like this, it is absolutely thrilling to behold…Thanks to specific and fleshy performances, we get to intimately understand each character's relationship to the conflict…By setting his production in this century, Sullivan draws a none-too-subtle parallel between the protracted conflict in 'The Illiad' and America's own seemingly endless wars." Full Review

Epoch Times

"Often considered one of Shakespeare’s problem plays, and certainly one of his most disconcerting, few works better illustrate the hypocrisy of war...The play certainly defies easy classification, with elements of comedy, romance, and tragedy told against a historical backdrop, one mood giving way to another at a moment’s notice. Sullivan solves this problem by having the entire cast play their roles brimming with passion." Full Review

Edge New York

"Daniel Sullivan has provided the Public Theater and its audiences with what may be the best Shakespeare in the Park production I have ever seen...Sullivan proves his brilliance once again in this vital presentation that captures the essence of a play: one of Shakespeare's hardest to render properly...Many of the performances are memorable, and the whole is at first funny, then unnerving and finally affecting." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“Sullivan brings a remarkable order and clarity to those cankerous, often confused proceedings; if he can't supply a strong of sense of forward motion, he nevertheless knits the scenes into a starkly powerful vision. Sullivan has also assembled a superb cast who speak the verse with rare lucidity...It's not likely that we will get another production of ‘Troilus and Cressida’ that is this clear about what it wants to say - or one that is as mordant in saying it.” Full Review


"There’s nothing quite like seeing the works of Shakespeare. Add to that the Delacorte Theatre’s setting in Central Park, and you have a match made in heaven. And that’s exactly what The Public’s production of 'Troilus and Cressida' was...The acting was far from the rigid, traditional acting often associated with Shakespearean productions; each actor embodied their character...A perfect example of the Public’s mission to bring dynamic and inventive theater to the broadest range of audiences." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

"Sullivan’s production is so ferociously good, so unexpectedly funny and searingly modern that it achieves that thing all productions of Shakespeare are at some level striving for: overcoming the language barriers to present a story you can lose yourself in as easily as a play in modern English...By far the cleverest, most subtle moment of the play, however, was that which wordlessly explained the end of Troilus and Cressida’s romance...This isn’t caprice, it’s survival." Full Review


“While ‘Troilus and Cressida’ is rarely staged, Daniel Sullivan’s production full of bombs and smoke suggests that in our time of endless wars it speaks to us again, and the play’s cynicism also seems to capture the current zeitgeist. It also features memorable performances from John Glover, John Douglas Thompson, Max Casella, Sanjit de Silva, and Alex Breaux, among others.” Full Review


"Director and designers deserve considerable credit for managing to surprise a New York audience, without resort to gimmickry…The entire cast is remarkably strong,..Thompson as Agamemnon, Hyland as Nestor, and Stoll as Ulysses transform Shakespeare's Greek leaders into convincing military bureaucrats of the present day…Glover appears to delight in every minute on stage. And when such a masterly actor enjoys himself, it's guaranteed the spectators will have a jolly time, too." Full Review

The New York Times

"The new Public Theater production of this relatively obscure Shakespeare play gets many things right, but its biggest triumph is to make us reconsider the reputation of a work derided for haphazard jumps from romantic declarations to military strategizing, from bawdy banter to moral questioning...A vivid, fleet-footed rendering by the director Daniel Sullivan and his adept cast, who weave the play’s disparate strands into a surprisingly effective whole." Full Review


"Director Daniel Sullivan and an ace ensemble of actors make what works about the play really crackle. While the story can get a little heavy-handed, the evening boasts a fun assortment of performances as it barrels toward a horrific finish...Mendes gives a standout performance, giving Cressida a contemporary edge that contrasts with the romanticizing of war that comes out in the poetics and bravado of the men surrounding her." Full Review

Front Row Center

"Despite a few long-winded monologues from the Bard, and female roles that are far from satisfying, this powerful staging, with a veteran company that’s not fooling around, is Shakespeare in the Park at its best. 'T&C' is rarely produced to begin with; a production this solid should not be missed. Director Daniel Sullivan is at the top of his game in creating a cohesive and entertaining night out of what is often referred to as one of Shakespeare’s 'problem plays.'" Full Review


"Director Daniel Sullivan prudently races through the boring stuff to get to the second act, in which he sends two armies of handsome, able-bodied actors into homoerotic battle to fight the suddenly sexy Trojan War…Under Sullivan’s direction, the seven-year war never lets up. Even as scenes are being played on stage, soldiers roam the theater aisles and do battle just outside the non-existent walls of the stark industrial set." Full Review


"Sullivan’s modern dress production manages to smooth over the tonal shifts quite effectively, staging the romantic scenes with great fervor and the comedy as pointed satire...Directorial brilliance can only go so far without an able cast, and this one comprised of veterans and rookies is sublime...This is not an easy play, but given our own unsolvable problems echoing global conflicts today, there is much gold to be mined here." Full Review


"The war raging around young lovers Troilus and Cressida is pointless. But that’s precisely the point of Shakespeare’s tragedy with a wickedly comic undertow…If the Grecian-Trojan war that pervades 'Troilus and Cressida' brings to mind current conflicts, that’s no accident. Director Daniel Sullivan brings Shakespeare’s seldom-produced anti-war, anti-hero, anti-romance farce into sharp 21st century focus, complete with selfies, social media and assault rifles." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Daniel Sullivan’s marvelously intelligent and thoughtful modern-dress production of Shakespeare’s darkly comic problem play...Drenched in irony and whipping in tone from bawdy comedy to near-nihilistic tragedy, 'Troilus and Cressida' offers little by way of plot or sympathetic characters...But its language is richly rewarding, and its understanding of military and sexual politics, elucidated in Sullivan’s staging, feels trenchantly modern." Full Review


"'Troilus and Cressida' is not a work with great emotional resonance, but Sullivan’s extremely cogent, beautifully acted production never fails to involve us. Much of the credit is due to the large cast, as practically each performer has been ideally chosen for his or her role...There are no fancy magic tricks here. And while the modern dress costumes and 21st-century props never feel completely organic, they eventually cease to matter much...The play truly is the thing." Full Review


"'Troilus' has been naturalized into 2016 idiom, making it delightfully easy to follow, if you don’t mind all the mugging that comes along with it…The final 20 minutes of the second act are almost non-stop smoke and gunfire. My sole gripe with the production was an over-reliance on hand-to-hand combat sequences, which are difficult to pull off for extended periods without calling attention to their staginess." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"Sullivan, abetted by an excellent ensemble, does about as well as one can with this difficult play. He stages the complicated action with fast-paced vigor and clarity, and imbues the violent battle scenes with visceral intensity...The plotting is mind-numbingly intricate…That it registers as powerfully as it does is a testament to the fine performances...This is a 'Troilus and Cressida' in which the play is very much the thing, and that, ironically, is its chief weakness." Full Review

AM New York

"The play is choppy and long (running three hours). But Daniel Sullivan, who has directed many shows in the park, delivers a smart production that views the ancient conflict from a contemporary standpoint…The battle scenes are built up with fight choreography, weaponry and splattered blood…As Cressida, Ismenia Mendes draws a full character arc out of a problematic role." Full Review

Village Voice

"Sullivan strips away any chance of such glamorizing by dressing the play in contemporary costumes that evoke a desert war...The soldiers in this male-heavy play are largely cynical and coarse, and Sullivan's actors, find contemporary stylistic touchstones for their cynicism...I find this play virtually impossible to love. Thanks to the blunt lucidity with which Sullivan has laid out its action, and his stern emphasis on textual clarity, I'm at least beginning, reluctantly, to respect it." Full Review

Theater Life

"'Troilus and Cressida’s' main problem is its sprawling story line, split between the battlefield and the bedroom...Sullivan overcomes the unwieldy nature of the play with a tight modern-dress production employing Uzis rather than swords and shields. Parallels are drawn between America’s military involvements and the ancient squabble over Helen of Troy’s romantic habits. The love match between the title characters takes a back seat to literally explosive battle scenes and military intrigue." Full Review

Woman Around Town

"At a time when war, lack of gun control and terrorism are ubiquitous in the news, it strikes me that subjecting us to something so theatrically realistic and compelling achieves the complete opposite...Having said that, acting and staging are skillful and energetic...Director Sullivan uses the mostly empty stage evocatively. His solders, with few exceptions, are cliché coarse and/or officious displaying no individuality. (Much of this may be the writing.)...As depicted, war is skin curdling." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Ambitious, Epic, Entertaining

See it if you like a modernized staging of a lesser known classic

Don't see it if A cast of 30 is too overwhelming

Epic, Intense, Riveting, Great staging, Cinematic

See it if you enjoy fresh, modern stagings of Shakespeare

Don't see it if you're more of a Shakespeare traditionalist

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Slow, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You love Shakespeare and enjoy a contemporary take on classics

Don't see it if You don't like Shakespeare, get annoyed with different interpretations of classic texts

Great acting, Quirky, Resonant, Banal, Insipid

See it if You don't mind enduring a somewhat overblown staging of one of Shakespeare's justifiably less-loved plays, or if you love John Glover.

Don't see it if You prefer Shakespeare to be more traditionally staged, or have trouble following a somewhat muddled plot delivered in Elizabethan language.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Edgy, Great acting, Intense

See it if you love Shakespeare (esp. his lesser known hits), a strong cast, classic stories set in the modern era, and of course, gun fights.

Don't see it if you can't stand Shakespeare or a relatively slow first act. The smoke, lights, and gunshots may be too intense for some goers, as well.

Great acting, Confusing, Slow

See it if you don't mind sitting through a slow first act, enjoy great acting, want to see an awesome combat scene in the second act

Don't see it if you get bored easily, don't like Shakespeare, are not interested in seeing a Shakespeare play with modern dress

Absorbing, Ambitious, Epic, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if Shakespeare's Trojan horse of a play stuffed with nearly everyone from The Iliad & Odyssey will surprise you with its clarity. Strong cast.

Don't see it if Overt homoerotic relationships and the Trojan War fought with machine guns are too anachronistic for you in a swords and sandals tragedy.

Absorbing, Epic, Confusing, Slow, Great staging

See it if You're a bardophile with an interest in seeing a lot of resources thrown at a more problematic play.

Don't see it if If you're not willing to look past a poorly structured and confusing story for the merits of this production.

Great acting, Indulgent, Disappointing, Overrated, Violent

See it if you're a diehard Shakespeare fan who really wants to see a production of this seldom-produced play.

Don't see it if you're bored easily or feel it's a bit too soon for a massive gun fight with semi-automatic weapons.

Absorbing, Epic, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you love TROY, THE ILIAD, or obscure Shakespeare! The most contemporarily-spoken Shakespeare I've seen in a long time!

Don't see it if You object to homosexuality on stage, you're a Shakespeare purist, or you hate loud noises!

Great acting, Intense, Relevant, Riveting, Great staging

See it if You want to see an excellent production of an underrated W.S. play. Terrific direction by Daniel Sullivan, great fight scenes & fine acting.

Don't see it if you're uncomfortable with scenes of warfare & blood.

Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Confusing, Long

See it if you're a fan of Shakespeare's and are trying to see all his works performed (this one isn't often seen on stage).

Don't see it if you haven't slept. Being Shakespeare, it's naturally dense material. I saw it while in a drowsy state and had difficulty following the plot.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Intense, Relevant, Slow

See it if you're a fan of Shakeaspeare. It's been modernized in some ways but still feels like the real deal to me. I suggest you buy a seat cushion.

Don't see it if You can't bear the heat for three hours. It takes a while to get to the good stuff but once you get there it was worth the wait.

Absorbing, Confusing, Great staging

See it if you want a unique Shakespearean experience. Some really good acting and clever staging.

Don't see it if can't sit through 3 hours of Shakespeare.

Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Great staging

See it if You want to see a brilliant interpretation of one of Shakespeare's lesser performed works, no one does it better than the Public! And FREE!!

Don't see it if You only enjoy Shakespearean comedies or won't be able to keep yourself out of your Instagram account for 3 hours (ahem ppl in front of me)

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Must see, Great staging

See it if You have had problems with this play in the past. You like tight, well acted, professional productions. You suffered through Taming...

Don't see it if You cant take the sweltering heat. You dont like loud sounds and faux warfare. Lots of semiautomatics.

Ambitious, Intense, Relevant, Great staging

See it if You enjoy outdoor theater that takes advantage of Central Park's great setting. You like well done modern takes on Shakespeare.

Don't see it if You don't like violence. There is a lot of fighting.

Epic, Great acting, Intense, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You want to see Shakespeare performed in a contemporary setting with actors in modern dress.

Don't see it if You don't want to see imaginatively staged version of this well produced show.

Ambitious, Intelligent, Quirky, Well acted, Complex

See it if you like Shakespeare or any theatre out of doors.

Don't see it if it's very hot and humid.

Epic, Great acting, Long, Great staging, Jarring

See it if You want to see a play that's rarely produced done in an updated and interesting way.

Don't see it if You don't like sitting outside for a while. It's long. Very long.

Ambitious, Great acting, Closes sunday aug. 14th - catch it while u can!!

See it if How many times have U had an opportunity to see ANY production of TROILUS & CRESSIDA, nevermind a 1st rate showing of a 2nd-rate Shakespeare

Don't see it if MUST-SEE for Bard-o-philes and those willing to sit thru a young romance in order to witness one of the most violent battles ever staged!!

Great acting, Intense, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you want strong acting, a darker Shakespeare play based on the battle between Troy & Greece, & inventive staging.

Don't see it if false gunfire makes you uneasy, you dislike modernized Shakespeare plays, or you want easily accessible tickets. Do the in-person lotteries.

Ambitious, Confusing, Disappointing, Overrated, Slow

See it if You are a Shakespeare fan. Actors were good. Too long and repetitive

Don't see it if Strictly for fans of the bard. Slow for kids and drags on and is repetitive

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you like Shakespeare & a great ensemble cast all around. Pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this production of a "problem play."

Don't see it if you don't like loud noises/discussion of warfare or simulated gunfights, you want to see one of Shakespeare's better written plays.

Ambitious, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if you want a modern take on a Shakespeare play.

Don't see it if you don;t like the use of machine guns, the concept of war and fight scenes.

Cast & Creatives (33)