Timon of Athens

  • Katharine Goodland
  • John O’Connor
Part of the A Directory of Shakespeare in Performance Series book series (DSP)


[T]he production has a fascinating quality of restraint about it, an absence of human life, a peculiar robotic hesitation in the delivery of lines; all this overlaid by the cool, blue luminosity of the backdrop and faint, almost indistinguishable sounds in the distance… When Rod Beattie and Christopher Britton, as the art-for-sale poet and painter, march onstage in their beige suits and ascots to discuss new ways of coaxing money out of Timon, a huge canvas-covered painting swivels behind them, and the “quality” of the town stride about elegantly; The play’s forced and often uninspired language is dealt with skilfully but almost sotto voce, as if attitudes and insinuations were all that counted… As the evening continues, it is clear that subtle touches like the hunting horns rather than the broad and florid playing Phillips often encouraged at Stratford are the modus operandi for the production. Lines that might be amusing are delivered drily, pitilessly. Phillips offers no quarter to the audience, devoting all his powers to reinforcing the bleakness of the play. Despite these restraints, William Hutt has managed to forge, out of that resonant voice and with those exasperated eyes, a rather singular Timon. In the final dinner scene, the play’s single tour de force where he serves his traitorous friends a feast of warm water and stones, he lashes the water at them with titanic abandon and fires battleship salvos of invective. Equally and oppositely effective is his exhausted plea, when he has run off into the forest, that nature should infect Athens and destroy it. But even Hutt cant wholly overcome the unbelievability of the character. Why does he stay stalled in hatred when his steward Flavius proves loyal, and his friend Alcibiades makes war partly to avenge him?


Actual Speaker English History Professional Theatre Atmospheric Lighting Tragic Hero 
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Copyright information

© Katharine Goodland and John O’Connor 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katharine Goodland
  • John O’Connor

There are no affiliations available

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