Timon of Athens

A shame that Alan Howard never got to play Timon on stage - the full-throttle reading he produces for this audio version makes you wish you had a chance to see him do the part. In contrast to Pryce (BBC 1981), this Timon is petulant and misdirected from the off, and while Howard gives little hint of insecurity or eagerness to please, it's a strategy that delivers impressive results in the crazed latter stages of the play. In early scenes Norman Rodway's abrasive and embittered Apemantus forms an unlikely duet with John McAndrew's youthful and anxious steward Flavius in attempting to put on the brakes, but Howard's descent into madness is too much a juggernaut for that. The rest of the cast is mixed - those in supporting roles (and there are a fair few) sound a bit uninspired and there is some over-enthusiastic chortling in the crowd scenes. That said, the giddy pace of Timon's court forms a vivid contrast with the wilderness outside Athens, and the role of Damien Lewis's commanding and impressive Alcibiades provides some kind of catharsis, as well as a surprisingly moving finale.

Timon of Athens

Audio: Alan Howard, Norman Rodway, Damien Lewis; Directed by Clive Brill; UK 1998, Arkangel.

Review from: The Rough Guide to Shakespeare, Andrew Dickinson.


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