Shakespeare's fable of wealth, greed, friendship and betrayal, Timon of Athens, opens The Shakespeare Theatre's new season in Washington DC, Aug. 29-Oct. 22, and the time seems right.
For those who often ask "why now?" when a classic is revived, the answer to the question in DC is clear to director Michael Kahn, who is also the non-profit company's artistic director: "It seems wholly appropriate to be doing this play now, when issues of wealth -- its sudden acquisition, its sudden loss -- are so much a part of our lives," he said, at the start of rehearsals. "Instant internet millionaires, enormous corporations merging, our society's obsession with the very rich, especially when they fall...these are all phenomena Shakespeare, rather presciently, anticipated in Timon."
The production concept is updated and set in the decade known for greed, the 1980s, "the last great period of boom and bust in this county," said Kahn.
In the play, the good-hearted and wealthy Timon gives his friends gifts and money, but he is rejected when he falls on hard times. Aided only by his steward, Flavius, and the outcast warrior Alcibiades, the increasingly misanthropic Timon flees Athens for the wilderness.
Philip Goodwin has the title role. Michael Genet is Alcibiades, Emery Battis is Flavius, Ted van Griethuysen is Apemantus, Andrew Long, David Sabin and John Emmert are Lucius, Lucullus and Sempronius, and Michael Graves, Ralph Cosham, Cameron Folmar and Patrick Hallahan round out the cast. Designers are Walt Spangler (set), Elizabeth Hope Clancy (costumes), Amy Appleyard (lighting), Brian D. Keating (sound). Kim D. Sherman is the composer.
Official opening is Sept. 5.
Tickets are $14.25-$62. The Shakespeare Theatre is at 450 7th Street NW in Washington DC. For information, call (202) 547-1122 or visit the web site at www.shakespearedc.org.
-- By Kenneth Jones