A Credit Crunch Tragedy; at the Mercy of Thieves: Timon (Simon Paisley Day in a Loincloth) Is Harassed by Bandits Adam Burton (Swooping) and Sam Parks

The Evening Standard (London, England), August 7, 2008 | Go to article overview

A Credit Crunch Tragedy; at the Mercy of Thieves: Timon (Simon Paisley Day in a Loincloth) Is Harassed by Bandits Adam Burton (Swooping) and Sam Parks


Byline: NICK CURTIS

NEVER destined to make the top ten of Shakespeare plays, Timon at least feels timely. This remorselessly linear study of economics and trust, largely untainted by romance or politics, shows a rich nobleman plunged into destitution and misanthropic despair after squandering his fortune on false friends. Lucy Bailey's production might be swamped by its conceptual staging were it not for this veneer of credit-crunch relevance, and the commanding central performance of Simon Paisley Day.

When she covered the open Globe with a claustrophobic canopy for a production of Titus Andronicus so gory that playgoers fainted, Bailey was hailed as a radically brilliant fixer of "difficult" Shakespeare plays here.

Unfortunately, putting a roof on an open-air theatre is a trick that shows diminishing returns. Here, there's a rope net above the audience, through which Timon's creditors swoop on bungee cords dressed as crows cawing, flapping and pecking at him.

Others swarm in, yipping like dogs.

This is justified by Shakespeare's imagery of predatoriness and gluttonous feeding but self-defeating for a play comprised of densely pessimistic, poetic speeches and taut, sharp exchanges. It takes ages for the aerial performers to get into position, but the moment there's a twang or a tweet from up above, you can see distraction wash like a Mexican wave over the audience as they turn their faces up and away from the stage. …

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