April Books 10) Timon of Athens, by William Shakespeare (and Thomas Middleton)

Timon is an Athenian whose generosity knows no bounds: certainly not, as it turns out, the bounds of his own finances. Meantime his friend Alcibiades leads an army against Athens for obscure reasons. Timon flees Athens because of his debts and dies in a cave, having coincidentally though not happily discovered a vast store of gold, while Alcibiades marches mercilessly on Athens.

There are several serious problems: the style is uneven (because of the shared authorship – a theory I completely buy); the Alcibiades plot is rather bolted on; several significant plot events (including Timon’s death) happen off-stage; the pacing is very weird (where most Shakespeare plays have a significant moment in Act 3, here the key scene is not until the end of Act 4); and Timon himself is a rather uninspiring hero, a poor reflection of Lear and Hamlet – so much so that I really wondered if the accepted chronology might be wrong and this a trial piece for better known and frankly superior works.

No doubt a good actor and inspired director could make a great production of this (and no doubt several have). Arkangel has made a good effort with Alan Howard in the title role. But it seemed to me surprisingly thin.

Henry VI, Part I | Henry VI, Part II | Henry VI, Part III | Richard III | Comedy of Errors | Titus Andronicus | Taming of the Shrew | Two Gentlemen of Verona | Love’s Labour’s Lost | Romeo and Juliet | Richard II | A Midsummer Night’s Dream | King John | The Merchant of Venice | Henry IV, Part I | Henry IV, Part II | Henry V | Julius Caesar | Much Ado About Nothing | As You Like It | Merry Wives of Windsor | Hamlet | Twelfth Night | Troilus and Cressida | All’s Well That Ends Well | Measure for Measure | Othello | King Lear | Macbeth | Antony and Cleopatra | Coriolanus | Timon of Athens | Pericles | Cymbeline | The Winter’s Tale | The Tempest | Henry VIII | The Two Noble Kinsmen | Edward III | Sir Thomas More (fragment)

One thought on “April Books 10) Timon of Athens, by William Shakespeare (and Thomas Middleton)

  1. Vance has a hero confronting a villain at his lair on the burn-out husk of a star.

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