The cast and director give it everything they have, but it's ultimately a play of 2 halves: all action in the first half and all stillness in the second. Whilst enjoyable, the audience gets very restive as it progresses; Bailey / Dudley's extravagant vision does enliven things, but also means that much of the first act poetry is lost in the visual clutter. But then again Timon needs something to enliven it... - DGR
27 Aug 08
Timon of Athens was probably an incomplete collaboration with Thomas Middleton and it is not difficult to see why it is one of Shakespeare's least performed plays. The first half is entertaing enough as Timon squanders his fortune and exiles himself when his "friends" desert him. The second half doesn't really go anywhere, just Timon starving to death and allowing a fellow exile to carry out a less than satisfactory revenge against the Athenians. Lucy Bailey and William Dudley try hard with some Cirque du Soleil style crows swinging from the net strung from the roof and a revolting scene which threatens to out-gross Titus Andronicus from 2006. Simon Paisley Day is excellent as Timon but even he cannot make us care about such an empty character. I suspect that if the play was not attributed, at least in part, to Shakespeare it would have disappeared into obscurity. - David Baxter
05 Aug 08
Lucy Bailey has largely managed to do for this play what she did for Titus Andronicus; take one of the lesser works of the canon and turn it into something solid, even if this one isn't as spectacular as her Titus.
Personally, I would have thought that the Globe would be the last place where you'd be subjected to the fad of the moment, the excessive use of ropework, but apparently not. Some can be an interesting addition, but it's way overdone here, with a huge netting covering the entire space of the Globe's interior, with people crawling around on it and at times swinging up and down from it on bungy chords. Honestly, I'm not joking. It's at times extremely annoying, and it's often distracting, not to mention interfering with the communication of the text itself.
Which is a shame, for this production has some excellent aspects to it, with the first half being very good, particularly the sumptuous feast at Timons house, with one of the most enthusiastically performed food fights I've seen. Other bits are less to my taste, such as the insertion of a bit of physical comedy, in the form of fake faeces, into the bitter sequence where Timon's old hangers on come to search him out in the wilderness, once they've heard that he now has gold again. About 3.5 stars I'd say at the moment, but as it's still in previews it might improve on that.
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