Most of Shakespeare’s tragedies are about the ruination of powerful people in times, places and circumstances far different from today. Not so "Timon of Athens." This chillingly timeless story of false friends and betrayal could be playing out today in Honolulu even though it takes place in ancient Greece.
Timon is a wealthy and generous man with no shortage of friends willing to accept his gifts and to party on his tab. He disregards the warnings of a cynical philosopher who coarsely warns him about the greed of mankind. He also disregards the warnings of his steward that he is spending money faster than he’s earning it.
|‘TIMON OF ATHENS’
>> Where: The ARTS at Marks Garage
>> When: 7:30 p.m. today through Saturday, 3:30 p.m. Sunday
>> Cost: $25 ($20 advance), $15 ($10 advance) today
>> Info: 800-838-3006 or www.hawaiishakes.org
>> Note: Free companion lecture 6:30 p.m. Saturday
When Timon’s money runs out he discovers that all his "friends" are gone, no one will loan him a penny and the creditors who enjoyed his hospitality now want payment in full and with interest.
The Hawaii Shakespeare Festival production of what festival founder Tony Pisculli describes as "Shakespeare’s most obscure tragedy" is a stunning showcase for Shawn A. Thomsen as Timon. Thomsen has been typecast until now in various stock comic roles, but there is nothing comical in his portrayal of a man who is betrayed by his own good nature and then consumed by rage and the desire for vengeance when every "friend" rejects him.
Stephanie Keiko Kong (Alcibiades) dominates several scenes as an angry sword-wielding military leader who seeks revenge on Athens for other reasons. Joe Abraham (Apemantus) takes the character of the churlish misanthrope to the edge of comedy, smirking and scowling as he denounces Timon’s innocence and the others’ greed in equal measure. Victoria Brown-Wilson (Flavius), her large eyes brimming with emotion, gives a heartbreaking performance as the loyal steward who seeks unsuccessfully to stay with Timon even when he’s reduced to living in a cave and grubbing for roots.
Pisculli and co-director Eleanor Svaton describe the show as a "gender-blind" production, but with all of the female characters played by women, their "blind" casting choices create no annoying distractions to mar this stark, dark and emotionally engaging production.