Saturday, 17 November 2012

Timon of Athens

I’ve blogged before about the National Theatre Live broadcasts. I think they are an awesome idea, and I have very much enjoyed those which I’ve seen.

I had booked to see the most recent production, Timon , on 4th November, but couldn’t go as I was busy suffering from lurgy, but happily there was a second ‘encore’ showing on Sunday evening, so I was able to see it after all.
( photo from National Theatre site)
Timon is one of Shakespeare’s least known, and least frequently performed works, and I'm a big Shakespeare fan, so I was always going to be keen to see it. The fact it got excellent reviews was a bonus!

This production has a modern setting, which works very well. In the first half of the play, Timon is wealthy, sought-after, and renowned for his generosity. When he loses his wealth, his erstwhile friends (depicted as city bankers, socialites and trust fund hipsters) all drop away, refusing to assist him or lend him money.

Alcibiades and his followers are depicted as rioters, recalling last summers' riots, and after his successful invasion of Athens we see him joining the board of directors of an unspecified company. La plus sa change...

Simon Russell Beale's Timon was a slightly pathetic figure - even in his wealth, seeming uncomfortable with others, and later, in his poverty, unable to accept the genuine affection of his steward.

It's far from being a cheerful play, but it was exceptionally well done, and well worth seeing.

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