Saturday 18 February 2017

Timon of Athens

It's not unusual for a Shakespeare to be included in the season at the Sewell Barn. However, Timon of Athens is an unusual show and seldom seen in performance - so here's your chance! It plays 16-18 and then 22-25 February.

The cast works superbly as an ensemble in this modern setting, using mostly women and a great deal of multi-casting. It's challenging, absorbing and wholly relevant to a twenty-first century audience, as the reviews are telling us.

"Saw the opening night of Timon of Athens at the Sewell Barn yesterday - brilliant production of a play which should be performed much more often. Debt, bankcruptcy and being abandoned by your friends - a story for our times." Fiona D

"Just seen Timon of Athens @sewellbarn. Great show, well done, all!" Rosamund W

"Really enjoyed your performance last night of Timon of Athens. Excellent throughout. Don't know why this play doesn't get put on more." Dan F

"Thank you @sewellbarn for bringing so much joy and hard work to us all! You are all truly incredible! Looking forward to next show!" Chris H

"Timon of Athens, so much local talent... very impressed." Kayte R

"Once again, another excellent production from the Sewell Barn. A very striking and thoughtful production. A parable for our times, relevant and fresh. Thank you." Barnaby M

"I do love Shakespeare and usually read and study a bit before watching a performance. With this play I was busy and distracted so time rushed by. But it was so good to be surprised by Shakespeare, and this play draws you in and then the tale twists, sometimes even creating bursts of shocked laughter.

Timon just seems too nice, distributing his 'huge' wealth amongst his 'friends' with banquets and presents, without any thought for the costs, indeed ignoring the evidence. I wonder at his history that made him feel he has to buy these friendships. But of course if he ever was in trouble these same friends would certainly look after him, wouldn't they? Who would remain to offer help if he ever lost everything? And how would his outlook on life change if this ever happened?

Shakespeare's use of language is legendary for his insight into the human condition and also its sometime unintelligibility, but understanding was never a problem in this performance. With a brilliant, bland, simple but very effective set as the backdrop the characters are highlighted as they should be. The scenes, settings and physicality of the action told the tale, with the dialogue forcing home the message. This cast bring the play to life with engaging energy, creating very interesting and sometimes intense characters that we can believe in and feel for. Watch this play and wonder how you would behave if you had lost everything, or had the power to provide help and save someone from falling. Enjoy." Mark M

"So you take a play that’s over 400 years old that nobody ever does. You update it into a completely contemporary time-frame and play it on a bare stage dominated by a hostile grey abstract structure that transforms in your mind into a multitude of settings – interiors, city walls, a rocky wilderness. You cross-cast many of the characters so that you have 10 women and 2 men, most of them playing a whole range of small parts. In this body of actors some of them are vastly experienced, some are very new to theatre and one joined the team only a week before opening night. It’s either total madness or a total miracle. But this is the Sewell Barn Theatre, chaps – so what you get is the miracle….

Huge congratulations to director Rob Tiffen and his entire team after the launch of Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens last night. And perhaps the most miraculous thing is that a play which is also totally dominated by its main character (an astonishing tour de force from Greg Lindsay-Smith as Timon) turns into a real ensemble piece, and through the commitment of the complex network of major and minor characters the unfamiliar story-line comes across with total clarity. One minute bitter, stark and harsh – the next, unexpected flashes of dry humour – and the whole? Well, according to most of the audience afterwards, tremendously satisfying and – much to their surprise, apparently – really enjoyable. No spoilers here, though – you’ll have to come and see it. And I mean, you *have* to come and see this. It’s not an easy night out but my God it’s rewarding. Thank you, guys!" Selwyn T [Secretary to Sewell Barn Committee]