To Albert Williams:
With all due respect for your talents as a theatrical critic, I feel I must respond to your review of Shakespeare Repertory’s Troilus and Cressida (“So Foul and Fair a Play,” February 3). My performance as Patroclus was singled out as the one “black mark on an otherwise superb production” for its “hackneyed” effeminacy. Normally I would never quibble with an unfavorable review, but your comments call into question my integrity as both an artist and a human being. I have always been very concerned about the political ramifications of what I do on stage, and I would never allow myself to do anything which I felt demeaned or trivialized homosexuals. The real crime to me would be in trying to play Patroclus “straight” in any way, leaving the audience to think that he and Achilles are “just good friends.” Certainly the text’s ambiguity regarding their relationship could leave such an interpretation open. In rehearsals for this production, one quote kept going through my head that I had heard from a PBS special on gays in the military–“You can put a boy in a uniform, but don’t put him in a dress.” To me the choices made by director Barbara Gaines and myself were a refutation of this sad and dangerous perception, and I’m only sorry that it did not come across that way to you.
I also have problems with the review’s assumption that because Patroclus is played “as if he’d just left a Bette Davis impersonators’ contest” his relationship with Achilles cannot be the loyal, loving one that you describe it should be. That comment insinuates to me that the relationships of stereotypically effeminate gay men are shallow and meaningless.
In the end I have to hold on to the fact that the high school audiences seeing Troilus and Cressida greatly enjoy Patroclus and are ultimately shocked and saddened by his death. It is unfortunately us adults who must constantly take up arms on this overly intellectual ideological battlefield of justification and rationalization.
I will continue to enjoy your theatrical reviews, and thank you for the personal challenge that your comments on Troilus and Cressida provoked in me.