Globe to Globe Blog: Timon of Bremen
Dan and Giles saw Bremer Shakespeare Company's German-language production of Timon of Athens...
DAN: The girl passed out in front of us just as the show was about to start. The boyfriend didn’t seem too fussed. Sort of patted her on the shoulder and held his water bottle to her mouth as she slumped on the step.
This could only be taken as a bad omen for tonight’s show.
GILES: We’d decided to have a burger before the show started and then go for a second during the interval. Don’t hate us. You really must try them. They know us now. They know how we like our burgers. Well done and with a little extra sauerkraut from the hotdogs.
DAN: So the young lady had passed out as we tucked into our first round of burgers, and it wasn’t even hot. Usually at the Globe they start dropping after having stood in the sun for 50 minutes but the show hadn’t even started yet. Perhaps it was something she ate.
GILES: Timon Of Athens. Hmm strange one. Neither of us knew it. Simon Russell Beale’s doing it at the moment down the road isn’t he? When we interviewed James Earl Jones he told us exactly how he thought Timon should be staged. He’d played it ages ago and it wasn’t until after the run had finished that he understood how a certain part should be played. “On all fours crawling across the stage, like an animal...” So we were interested to see what this story was all about. In German.
DAN: For a start there were actors pacing the stage. In tails. Suits I mean. They were all smoking cigars. Which weren’t lit. Preparing for some party. Talking to each other and occasionally the audience. The Globe was packed. There was a giant circular trampoline in the middle of the stage. “Here we go.” Giles said, with a mouth full of sauerkraut. “I reckon this could be a wet one. There’s gonna be water, I can tell.” “You might be right.” I replied. Turns out there was. Hosepipe dragged on stage as Timon seeks revenge on his enemies and it’s the afternoon show at Seaworld time.
GILES: It is the only production so far that neither of us has really enjoyed. The actors were confident, capable and clear but they didn’t seem all that interested in actually communicating with one another. Relating to each other. The emphasis seemed to be on presenting ideas rather than relationships. I mean it wasn’t as over the line as the Belarus Lear. No one smeared shit all over themselves but it was interesting to notice the overriding connections between nations in this festival. The Europeans are interested in ideas. The Africans are interested in the power of humour. The Mediterranean’s go for passion. The Asians combine all three.
DAN: There was no music. Very little. I Will Survive was made use of at one point. But not played live. The productions that fare best in this theatre make full use of live musicians.
GILES: There were some arresting ideas on show displaying Timon’s crumbling dissent from 100% proof Bill Gates giver to raving drop out, but I don’t want to see ideas onstage, I want to see people and how they react to each other and their situations.
DAN: At one point a guy blasted onstage in army uniform, everyone was barking at the top of their lungs in their most furious German and then shots rang out. That was when I almost jumped into Giles lap. I’m sorry.
GILES: But the point still remains, what other artist can you think of who’s art moves so far into all walks of life around the globe? Who’s work will stand such diverse interpretations and surgeries and still remain available for whoever comes along next. Not Bach. Not Da Vinci. Not even Jesus can top Shakespeare. Jesus seemed to say- You must be like me. Shakespeare seems to say- You must be as you are.
As Timon himself challenges in the fourth act:
“Come, damn’d earth, that puts odds
Among the rout of nations, I will make thee
Do thy right nature.”