#98. Francis Ford Coppola (1990), Burt Reynolds (1993), Debbie Reynolds (1997), Donald Trump (1991, 1992, 2004, 2009): what happens when a celebrity declares bankruptcy? Do they face it alone? Or do the hanger-on-ers that enjoyed the lavish good times, help a celeb through the bad times.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents TIMON OF ATHENS. Timon is a corporate mogul. His parties are legendary. Artists, poets, businessmen, and athletes attend. They smoke his cigars, drink his booze and fondle his entertainment. These guys are Timon’s biggest supporters…until they’re asked for actual support. Timon is in trouble. He’s broke. He owes millions. He turns to his entourage for assistance. They turn him down and out with a variety of excuses. So, what’s he do? Throws one last memorable shindig that changes everything. TIMON OF ATHENS is one man’s search for the value of his life.
This gem on the beach of Shakespeare’s portfolio is rarely produced. I imagine the all-male cast squabbling over finances could be dull. Well, that is until Chicago Shakes gets their hands on it. Director Barbara Gaines puts a modern twist on an old tale. Corporate goes to the beach. The design team works over-time to create a visual feast. Costume Designer Susan E. Mickey dresses the guys like a GQ spread. At the first dinner party, they are all in a variety of modern black suits with laurel leaf headbands and Roman style pashminas. These guys are stunningly hot. It’s any woman’s classy fantasy centerfold. At the next dinner party, it’s a cream-colored fashion show that is perfectly showcased on Scenic Designer Kevin Depinet’s sleek set. In the first act, Depinet uses a minimalist , corporate look. Projection Designer Mike Tutaj adds some electronic touches on the backdrop and television sets. Uber urban! The second act opens to gasps and spontaneous applause as the tides rolls in… spectacular! And it’s not just the visual either. Sound Designer Lindsay Jones produces some funky original music. Her soundscape sounds like an anthem for a gentlemen’s club. The music reverberates like hand rolled Cubans dipped in bourbon during a lap dance.
And on the stage, the all-male revue (plus some exotic *female* dancers) are a testosterone-oozing bunch. Gaines keeps the movement playful and searing, like a high-powered stag party. The talented cast is a bunch of users. And the target of their deception is a charismatic Ian McDiarmid (Timon). In the first act, McDiarmid is the flashy gregarious host thoroughly enjoying his view from the head of the table. Later, McDiarmid dissects life with poignant snark. His performance transforms as his situation does. Where he ends up philosophically compared to where his old entourage ends up literally is a powerful and unforgettable finish.
Think you know Shakespeare’s TIMON OF ATHENS? Think again and go see it when it’s been Chicago Shaken not stirred.
Enjoying the view, Jen describes it with ‘awesome 2nd act opening.’
Running Time: Two hours and ten minutes includes an intermission
At Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Barbara Gaines
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays at 7:30pm
Wednesdays at 1pm
Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm
Sundays ay 2pm and 6pm
Thru June 10th
Buy Tickets at www.chicagoshakes.com