Timon of Athens charts the title character’s devolution from benevolent businessman to misanthropic recluse. Generous to the point of foolishness, Timon recklessly showers gifts and money upon the band of sycophants that surrounds him. “What a number of men eats Timon, and he sees ‘em not!” growls Apemantus, the play’s cynical philosopher. But Timon sees his “friends” for what they truly are when his wealth dries up and they desert him. Leaving behind his beloved city, Timon flees to a no-man’s-land outside of society, where only his faithful steward Flavius and the similarly exiled warrior Alcibiades can even attempt to reason with him. Directed by Michael Kahn, the production is both a Shakespeare Theatre and a DC area premiere. Helen Hayes Award winner Philip Goodwin, who recently appeared at The Shakespeare Theatre as Don Quixote and Lord Byron in Tennessee Williams’s Camino Real and in the title roles of King John and Henry VI, plays the title role in Timon. Although Shakespeare set Timon of Athens in what we now call that city’s golden age, director Kahn and his collaborators have updated this tragedy to another age of excess: the materialistic 1980s. Against the world of cool steel, tempered glass and high fashion envisioned by set designer Walt Spangler, costume designer Elizabeth Clancy, and lighting designer Amy Appleyard, Timon is crushed beneath the wheel of fortune in this cautionary tale.
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