Wednesday August 23rd 2017

“Timon of Athens”

Highly Recommended**** Wealth is something that most people desire, because to most, wealth is power, and who among us, doesn’t want power? In the very rarely done “Timon of Athens” by William Shakespeare, now onstage at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier. Director Barbara Gaines, takes this play, written sometime in the 1600’s,  to modern times ( as often the case at CST) and it works flawlessly. Timon ( masterfully played by Ian McDiarmid) is a God among his peers  as he is the marvel of the money world. They have placed this in  the futures trading market. Everyone loves and adores this man, but as his fortunes change, and his followers become his creditors, his world changes. Although he is warned by his loyal steward Flavius ( Sean Fortunato in yet another role dealing with financial situations) he takes no heed and  Timon finds himself near bankruptcy. All of his “great friends” will not come to his rescue and so he tosses a very lavish party, invites them all and then as the first act ends, destroys all that has been set upon the banquet table and bashes these men who have let him down.

Timon , in the opening of the second act is on an isolated island off the coastline ( the set for this opening(Kevin Depinet) is outstanding and in fact, garnered the audiences swift approval with great applause as the fog uncovers the island and Timon. Alone, he rants and raves about the inhumanity of those who were his followers and now have thrown him aside. Digging in the sand for nourishment of some kind, he finds bars of gold. Soldiers who come upon him take gold and as word spreads that he has new riches, other betrayers come seeking some of the gold for themselves. At this point Timon has given up on humanity and those who let him down and decides to finance Alcibiades ( (deftly handled by Danforth Comins) in declaring war on Athens and a sit turns out, makes the gold a gift to Flavius as Timon, ordering his story to be told by the writer ( Kevin Gudahl) and the Artists ( Timothy Edward Kane) are instructed to do so. The end is an amazing piece of drama, so I will not give it all away, but it truly shows how money can change the life of a man, any man! And that power is indeed controlled by those who have the money!

As always, CST has some of the finest of Chicago’s actors. In addition to those already mentioned, there are stellar performances by William Dick, Terry Hamilton, Samuel TaylorDavid Lively, Sean Blake,Bruce A. Young,Demetrios Troy and James Newcomb ( who is also the fight director). There is a marvelous dance number in the first act, choreographed brilliantly by Nicilas Blanc and danced by Jen Donohoo,Noelle Kayser,Luke Manley,Bianca L. Sanders and Malachi Squires. Blake also does some singing in this number. The original music and sound by Lindsay Jones is perfect as is the lighting by Robert Wierzel. Costumes by Susan E. Mickey along with the wigs and make-up by Melissa Veal are the icing on the cake. Many of the ensemble members play dual roles and with the make-up and wig changes, they are not recognizable as the previous character. Once again, Mike Tutaj handles the projections of this modern day, high tech version of a Shakespeare play and the prop master is Chelsea Meyers, who has assembled some great pieces.

                                                                   

While McDiarmid is a fantastic actor who brings a great deal to this character who goes through some major life changes, I did hear many say that they had some problems hearing his words as clear as we are used to at this wonderful venue. I am hopeful this is a problem that will take care of itself as his work is to good to be missed and the story relies on the audience knowing all the ins and outs of what happens to this powerful man, who gives up on life.

“Timon of Athens” will continue at CST at Navy Pier through June 10th in the Courtyard Theater. For exact show times and to order tickets online visit www.chicagoshakes.com

Tickets range from $44-$75 and are available online, at the box office or by calling 312-595-5600.

There is discounted parking at Navy Pier. Bring your parking ticket to the theater for validation and save 40%. Navy Pier is also easy to get to via public transportation and there are many dining spots ( of all types) at Navy Pier.

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