For his third production for the York Shakespeare Project, director Paul Toy has shunted Troilus And Cressida forward from the ancient Greek-Trojan impasse to the Siege of York in the English Civil War.

That 1644 siege lasted ten days, and while it would be churlish to say the Toy show felt like that too, you are in for a long night. A very long night. The clock hand had ticked past 11 o’clock from a 7.30pm start by the time the sudden orgy of sword-fighting – a frenetic visual experience not dissimilar to a computer wargame – brought matters to their resolution.

In truth, the switch to 17th century besieged York is pretty much skin deep, although it reinforces the timeless nature of love and war. The names of the Greek and Trojan usual suspects remain the same, so too the references to Troy and Greece, but Zoe Groves’s Stuart-era costumes and bucket boots stand out wonderfully against the black-box backdrop with its flight of steps and awkward railings to negotiate.

The new setting is reinforced by the Early Music played by the woodwind, trumpet and quitar quartet of Nick Jones, Peter Marsh, Grace Redmore and Katie Seaborne and the harmony and solo singing of Duncan Campbell, Alan Hardwick, Ian Packington, John Sharpe and Paul Tyack. Their contribution is one of the best features of the production, especially the way they interact with assorted cast members’ exhortations to play or to stop playing. Playing a jarring bum note, when Maurice Crichton’s Scottish-toned Ulysses asks “What discord follows?”, is a typically light comic touch from the director.

As ever with Paul Toy’s Shakespearean work, intelligence and good judgement are at work, together with no little wit, and his choreography for the climactic fight scenes is excitingly full of flashing blades just out of contact with the audience.

You might wish he had inflicted more of those cuts on the text, as he has slashed only one seventh of the dialogue from Shakespeare’s third longest play, but what he gains in retaining so much of the verbal cut and thrust is a series of strong individual performances. Indeed, the parts are better than the sum of the parts.

Virginia Hartmann reaffirms she has one of the most delectable voices on the York stage in the role of Cressida; Alan Flower’s musketeer look and natural stage presence serve Troilus well, and it is pleasing to see Ray Alexander return to prominence as the match-making/interfering Pandarus, resplendent in powdered wig and cane. He has his comic moments, as does James Rotchell’s fool, Thersites, especially when he turns his woollen bobble hat into a puppet.

Jon Adams scares the audience with an Ajax who is not so much scenery chewing as scenery endangering, bashing the seating rails in his fury. Matthew Wignall’s underhand seducer Diomedes comes to the fore post-interval, while Daniel Wilmot’s under-dressed Achilles has camp camaraderie with teenage new discovery James Osman’s Patroclus (whose hint of Little Richard is an added pleasure).

The really serious, thankless business rests with Ian Giles’s Agamemnon and Andy Crisp’s Hector, whereas Clancy McMullan has scene-stealer written all over her cameos as ever-gloomy prophetess Cassandra.

Troilus & Cressida remains a Shakespeare B-side, as one audience member observed, but York Shakespeare have made a decent fist of giving it one of its rare days on the A-side of life.

Troilus And Cressida, York Shakespeare Project, 41 Monkgate, York, until Saturday, 7.30pm and 2pm Saturday matinee. Box office: 01904 623568, or on the door.