Timon of Athens
Rich beyond measure, Timon loves feasts, friends and flattery. Yet, when financial crisis hits he finds his friends disappear, leaving him alone in the ruins of his extravagant lifestyle. With his creditors closing in, Timon prepares a final party to make his farewells. And what a farewell this will be …
Ruby Clarke directed our production of Timon of Athens, performed from 14th to 17th May 2015 as part of the York International Shakespeare Festival. The audience were welcomed to the lavish surroundings of the de Grey Rooms Ballroom as guests and observers to the feast prior to Timon’s downfall; the ensemble cast supporting the text with choreographed sequences and physical storytelling to bring the celebrations to life.
Ruby wrote: ‘Something that struck me early on was that this play, more than any other of Shakespeare’s, presents friendship as the key relationship. It is his only play where the protagonist has neither love interest nor family, and so emphasises the importance of platonic relationships and their impact on our well-being. With no other relationship to fall back on, the trauma of finding his friends to be false is all the more devastating for Timon. Though we are more used to seeing the loss of a lover or parent on stage, this play suggests that losing a friendship can prove just as fatal.
‘The other focus of the play is money. Finance is always in the news, and never more so than in the wake of a General Election. Due to this, Timon of Athens sits perfectly on today’s stage. Through its fairytale-like plot, it uses one character’s experience to question our relationship with wealth, the wavering loyalty of the rich, and the power money has to bring people to their knees. I hope you find something in our feast to sink your teeth into.’
Photographs by Dan Cashdan
John Hoyland – Timon
Lucy Simpson – Flavius
Cathrine Hall – Apemantus
Paul French – Alcibiades
Rachel Price Harold Mozley
Keith Rowan Sandra Rowan
Janice Barnes-Newton Naomi Lombard
Ross Hunter Ellen Cole
Elizabeth Sharrock Imogen Little
Director:- Ruby Clarke
Movement Director – Madeline Shann
Assistant Director – Maeve Campbell
Stage Manager – Ella Dixon
Designer – Ruby Savage
Photography – Dan Cashdan and Andrew Dyer.
In The York Press, Louise Jones wrote:
‘YORK Shakespeare Project took on the task of performing every Shakespeare play across 20 years in 2001 and have covered 26 of them already.
‘This summer’s offering, as part of the York International Shakespeare Festival, is the lesser-known Timon Of Athens. The play follows a simple plot: a benevolent fool descends into misanthropy as he is left without support from his peers. Director Ruby Clarke has chosen a smaller cast to perform various roles. The ensemble work well, multi-roling confidently with a nice range of emotion.
‘The inclusive manner of YSP has embraced actors from all walks of life, although with a varied skill set across the board some scenes are a little inconsistent.
‘John Hoyland is enjoyable as Timon, who really relishes the carnal hatred his protagonist embodies in the second act; a huge contrast to the mild-mannered gentleman we saw in Act One. Cat Hall portrays Apemantus, a similarly cynical character, swaggering across the stage and providing laughs with her tireless disgruntlement at the excess lifestyles in the city.
‘It is Lucy Simpson, however, who completely steals the show. Her appearances as the steward Flavius are compelling in her understated disappointment at Timon’s foolishness. The final scene of Act One, in which the servants are forced to find new employment, led by Simpson, is heartbreaking.
‘There is also a good sense of humour throughout the piece, poking fun at the sycophantic Athenians; the poet and painter in particular work as a brilliant double act, providing visual gags and dark humour.
‘Ruby Savage’s set design is simple yet effective, cleverly using the tablecloths and coat racks from Act One’s lavish ballroom to make up Timon’s makeshift home in the woods. The piece is also choreographed, with help from movement director Madeline Shann. The use of dancing at Timon’s parties earns a mixed reaction: while it is interesting to see a descent of movement from upright to swaying and grooving more freely, it is up to the company to sell this routine and it can sometimes look awkward.
‘A little stilted at parts, this is just a matter of the ensemble cast warming into the production, and it’s great to see that performance of all manner of Shakespeare’s plays is alive and well in York.’
A few pictures from early rehearsals …