Culture, Listings, On Stage

Shakespeare versus money

Until the 31st of October the Olivier Theatre will be playing host to Timon of Athens, a contemporary adaptation of the English playwright’s work, directed by Nicholas Hytner. A vision of the evils of wealth and superficiality.

Timon is a wealthy liberal, lover of happiness, constantly being showered with gifts and compliments by those who surround him. Favours and gifts which he returns with the same exaggerated extravagance.

During the time of his frivolous spending, his butler, Flavio, continuously advises him, in vain, of the worrying state of his finances and his inability to continue throwing away money in this manner.

When Timon’s debts catch up with him, the upper class people with whom he had been associating turn their backs on him and, after exacting his revenge, he moves away to live alone in a cave, enjoying the virtues of a misanthropic life, where he finds a treasure.

William Shakespeare wrote Timon of Athens at the beginning of the seventeenth century. It is a story of wealth, material possessions, appearances and the power of money.

A work of theatre that, despite having been written more than six centuries ago, corresponds perfectly well with reality today. Now, more than ever, the power of money apparently dominates and controls our lives through the financial crisis.

For this production, the English director Nicholas Hytner observed the wealthier neighbourhoods of London, Mayfair and Canay Wharf, in order to present an adaptation of this work and reflect on the disorganised upper classes of our times, showing the real Timon and his sycophantic entourage.

In Hytner’s version, the actor Simon Russell Beale will be playing the role of the Shakespearian protagonist of the new millennium, ruined by the long capitalist crisis that will get his revenge on his peers in his own manner, the same as the Timon of 1600.

A contemporary fable for reflecting on the evil attractions of our time.

Nicholas Hytner’s adaptation of Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare will be shown from Friday the 3rd of August until Wednesday the 31st of October at the Olivier Theatre, South Bank, London SE1 9PX

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(Translated by Emma Harris – Email:

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