National Theatre, Olivier
Simon Russell Beale
Dir: Nicholas Hytner
Well, first things first: SRB is terrific.Manages to engage our sympathy for a stupid and hateful man.
It is fairly rare to see a Shakespeare play not a word of which one has heard or read before, and so this was intriguing. Of course, being a drama rather than a book, I missed most of the poetry, straining to hear almost anyone but SRB. I do not lay the blame with the actors, however, as I left my hearing aids at home (as usual).
What is obvious about Timon is that it was in some sense a dry run for the play that followed it, King Lear. I think the director fathomed this. The Beckettian squalor of the second half set invited thoughts of Lear and his cheese, and Timon's rages at ingratitude, are full, as in Lear, of disgust with the sexual act that brings forth humans.
I didn't care for Flavia at all: she had a kind of whine in her delivery that grated. I'm afraid I didn't much like Flaminia either. Hilton McRae enjoyed himself as the Cynic, as did I. But this was a one-man show really.
It has a curious ending, but I think had the friendship between Alcibiades and Timon, which is there in the text, not been played down, then there might have been a resolving sense of pathos which would have made the close more satisfactory.
I think we're unlikely to see Timon again. SRB's nailed it good and proper.
"...the learned pate
Ducks to the golden fool..."