Performed by the newly formed Lock and Key Theatre, Timon of Athens is renowned as one of Shakespeare and Middleton’s most challenging plays. Director Alice Langley’s production is set in modern day London, with themes such as losing wealth, poverty and the fickleness of money. The play is certainly relevant to modern day issues, so the idea of it being contemporised appealed to me. However I felt that Langley made some strange decisions when it came to the stylising of characters which completely clashed with the idea of the production being modernised.
I disliked the use of Commedia Dell’arte masks for the characters of the Poet and the Painter. I could see where Langley was coming from in her attempt to bring a third dimension to the characters and make them quirky, however considering it was supposed to be a modern adaptation, this decision really missed the mark. The rest of the cast were also extremely stylised and heightened. The only part of this that I enjoyed was the abundance of energy that they supplied throughout. They were all incredibly confident and focused, but played caricatures of the rich as opposed to realistic portrayals. As intentional as this was, it didn’t work. Yes, the actors were in modern costume and partook in activities such as doing shots and dancing to contemporary music, but the feel of the play itself wasn’t modern. Each actor seemed to have about six different parts to play which made it even more unrealistic. The decision to make the play a modern adaptation is already a huge change, and the rest of the stylisation on top of this was overwhelming.
The lead role of Timon was played by the capable Alex Vendittelli. He effectively captured Timon’s downfall, taking the audience’s empathy with him as he fell. There were a few scenes which were shouted as opposed to having a slow build up, such as Timon’s monologue before the interval in which he madly curses those around him. However, as a whole Vendittelli came across as powerful and well suited to the role. Rosie Marsh’s playing of Flavius and Laura Huxley’s portrayal of Alcibiades had some deliciously subtle and quiet moments, exactly what was needed in all the noise and activity from the rest of the cast. Helen Bovey, Elizabeth Back and Sofia Moura respectively played an alarming amount of roles and did so with professionalism and enthusiasm. However, there was perhaps a bit too much going on each time they spoke. They moved too much when other actors were speaking, and proved to be distracting and tiring after a while. Overall the cast managed to carry some strange directorial choices, and kept me attentive throughout. Definitely worth a watch if you like your theatre to be energetic and a bit different. 3/5
Review written by Laura Walton.
Timon of Athens is currently showing at the Space Theatre until Saturday 2nd August. For more information on the production, visit here…