There’s a war between Troy and Greece onstage at a historic site not far from the Deer District of downtown Milwaukee. There’s a love affair going on, but since it’s kind of boring, so it's been cut in Boozy Bard’s Troilus and Cressida (not.) No love. No romance. Only the silly pointlessness of war. Script editor Andrea Roedel-Schroeder’s Troilus and Cressida makes its way to the stage without Troilus and Cressida early this week with brightly-colored scripts, strange costuming and weirdly exaggerated prop weapons. There are some rather nice beers on tap. There’s an open ridicule of war and human aggression. It’s a fun evening at The Best Place at the old Pabst Brewery.
As people settle-in before the show, the arsenal sits on a long table beneath leaded glass. Foam swords of various types are displayed (at least two of which look ridiculously big enough to be the Sword of Aubec. One of the big, cuddly swords has blood painted on it. The other doesn’t.) In and amidst the arsenal is the most formidable item in the venue: a single hat. It is from this humble hat that the ensemble draws its assignments for the evening. The cast of characters settle themselves in and around the cast of actors and everything gets underway after brief and charming introduction by the evening’s host Stephen M. Wolterstorff.
It’s always a bit weird to see what the casting director chooses for any given night with Boozy Bard. The hat was possessed of strange generosity last night with the opening of the week. The contrast between Achilles and Patroclus was fun. The diminutive Christee Means Reince played the epic warrior Achiles next to an imposingly towering bearded Keith Gaustad as his beloved Patroclus. Reince has sharp comic instincts, which served the role well as things heated-up towards the end of the drama. Sarah Wallisch seemed very comfortably witty in the role of comic relief Thersites (instantly recognizable by the red fez she wore.) Hector’s best moments might have been shared by Josh Bryan as legendary warrior Ajax. Bryan and Wallisch had some of the better comedy of the evening, but the show was enjoyable throughout with something entertaining onstage.
The specter of war hangs like a shadow around the edges of the drama that is played for comedy. There are big plush-like swords. There are tiny plastic helmets. (One of which couldn’t seem to remain on the noble head of Ajax.) There’s a big confrontation that is shown to be every bit as silly, tragic and pointless as war always is. Somewhere in the heart of everything with so much death and suffering in the world beyond The Best Place, you know...you know that this is how warlike human conflict SHOULD be pursued: with harmless weapons and silly wit...drink in hand and “vastly underprepared” by design.
Boozy Bard’s Shakespeare RAW production of Troilus and Cressida (not) continues through June 15th at The Best Place Tavern at the Historic Pabst Brewery on 917 W. Juneau Avenue. There are performances the 14th and the 15th at 7 pm. (There’s also a free performance of Boozy Bard’s Twelfth Night at 5:30 pm on Sunday the 19th.) For more information, visit Boozy Bard’s Facebook Page.