Timon, Timon, Timon. Who is this Timon character that everyone talks about? As the play begins, the audience cannot help but wait in anticipation to meet Timon, played by Sean Tarrant, as characters continue to gush endlessly about him.
Everyone desires to be in Timon’s good favor and Timon seems eager to be generous not only with his favor, but with his monetary favors.
‘Timon’ is an adaptation from William Shakespeare’s ‘The Life of Timon of Athens.’
Directed and adapted by Professor Robert Cohen, the Shakespearean play has been adapted and set in a modernized Athens, equipped with cellular phones, laptop computers and all the modern conveniences. At the same time, the play is able to maintain a lavish Shakespearean touch to it.
The structural scenery remains the same throughout the play, which makes the setting a bit monotonous, but large props such as a Joshua tree, a banquet table and a garbage cave help to distinguish between the settings.
The actors purposefully and creatively utilize the four aisles in the theater to maximize the somewhat small stage of Winifred Smith Hall, but also successfully incorporate the audience into the action of the play.
As the play progresses, we come to learn that not everything is as perfect as it seems. Timon is so giving that he is in debt and is forced to leave Athens when his own creditors come demanding for what he owes them.
The story of Alcibiades, an army captain, played by Rick Prigge, is also weaved into the play. After actively defending the city of Athens in war, he becomes bitter and disgusted when he comes to find the ugly cruelty and cold-heartedness that lies in the city.
Prigge does an excellent job portraying Alcibiades. He is intense and completely engaged, especially in some of the most emotionally charged scenes of the play.
Timon, just like Alcibiades, is transformed when he realizes the malignant effect of money, selfishness and greed.
Tarrant gives a riveting and impressive performance, displaying both the beloved, jolly and generous Timon as well as the angry and disillusioned Timon to the utmost brilliance.
His energy and interaction with the other cast members is so natural, that he truly seems to forget that he is onstage with an audience. One of his best scenes is when Timon meets Apemantus, played by Omar Ricks, once again after he has already left Athens.
Ricks also gives an amazing performance playing Apemantus, who already seems to know that Timon’s ‘friends’ are money-grubbers before Timon realizes.
Flavia, Timon’s stewardess, played by Kyra Zagorsky, is the only person who does not abandon Timon and continues to remain his faithful servant.
Adding to the performance are the phenomenal sound effects, which make it seem like real helicopters are flying overhead and that machine guns are being fired from the back of the theater.
One grievance that the viewer may have is that the play has a running time of about two-and-a-half hours, including intermission, which fails to hold the audience’s attention throughout the entirety of the play.
Thankfully, the first act consists of scenes that are new and unexpected. Action consistently follows action. The first half of the second act, unfortunately, is laborious.
The second half of the second act rescues the play by capturing the attention of the audience once again to assure that they do not miss the massive climatic end.
‘Timon’ shows that money, regardless of whether one has it, can dramatically affect not only one’s way of living, but also our own character.
‘Timon’ is not one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays for a reason. The cast and crew of ‘Timon’ have little to work with. Even with the fine elements of the production, such as the acting and the interesting adaptation, little can be done to transform the basic story of the play. Even if you are Shakespeare’s biggest fan, don’t expect ‘Timon’ to be anywhere near the caliber of ‘Hamlet.’
Be warned that the play contains a live gunshot and brief full-frontal nudity.
‘Timon’ will continue to run at 8p.m. from April 28 to April 30, including a matinee performance on April 30 at 2 p.m.
There will also a roundtable discussion that will be free to the public entitled ‘The Challenge of Timon’ on April 29 at 3 p.m. in UC Irvine’s Nixon Theatre featuring various UCI professors and guest speaker, Gretchen Minton.