Directed by Mary Rose Angley
Words by Austin Frape
Based on a rare play by William Shakespeare, Timon of Athens is the latest production from Symposium Productions and Splash Adelaide. Directed by Mary Rose Angley, the story unravels a tale of falling from grace as the titular Timon (Tom Tasssone), a wealthy man who generously gives money to artists and poets, finds himself out of money and in debt. In reaction to his friends not being able to help his situation, Timon flees in anger and isolates himself from Athens. Meanwhile, army general Alcibiades (Theon Ajax) causes an uprise against Athens to bring peace and justice.
Timon of Athens was definitely the most unique theatre experience that I’ve ever had. This type of experience is known as a promenade performance (Credit goes to Angela Short for that term). Rather than using the traditional format of a stage being surrounded by the seating area, the characters used the rows of seats to wander around, causing the audience to move with them as they speak and move, as well as making audience members get up and sit in another row of seats, and even at one point, making us leave the stage venue and into the park area where seats and blankets were set out. As the venue was the Grandstand in Victoria Park, this decision was an interesting way of changing location without the need of an intermission and changing background props. It allows not only the audience to interact with the characters within the story as guests at the party or members of a protest, but to breathe a real life ecstatic to the play through Victoria Park. Timon of Athens is definitely worth checking out for that experience, but do remember to rug up as it is outside and the weather could potentially distract from the play itself.
Much like Three Tall Women, all of the actors gave outstanding and engaging performances. Timon of Athens showcased very diverse performances from the actors, ranging from sarcastic and witty to emotionally stirring. I was treated to standout performances from Tasssone and Ajax, as well as Genevieve Hudson as The Poet, Ellen Graham as Apemantus, and Leighlan Doe as Ventidius, who really brought the Shakespearian dialogue to their own. Once again, being in a public setting, it was commendable that everyone involved did not hold back and made each role their own. The production design was also quite cleverly done as the story was brought to modern Australian setting. Given the themes of the story are quite timeless, the transition did not feel forced or unnecessary.
Overall, Timon of Athens was a delightful theatre experience, bringing something that I had never seen accomplished in person with the interaction between the characters and the audience, as well as moving from location to another, as well as displaying very solid performances. Watch out for these performers and Mary Rose Angley in the future.