The Shakespeare Theatre Company presents Timon of Athens at the Michael R. Klein Theatre. Performed for the second time in the U.S., artistic director Simon Godwin makes his Shakespeare Theatre debut with a modern twist on the classic performance. The performance runs through March 22.
The story follows the character of Timon (played by Kathryn Hunter), who hosts many mainstream and elegant parties for the friends she holds dear to her heart. Timon later finds herself in a financial pit. She’s approached by bankers requesting her debts be paid only to find the friends she admired unwilling to help her in the midst of great need. Out of hurt, Timon makes way into the wilderness by herself while plotting revenge against the city that turned against her. Along the way, she learns about herself and impacts those who cross her path.
Script editor Emily Burns, who has worked alongside Godwin for many years, explained that “guests can expect to see a challenging and quite editorially naughty text in Shakespeare’s cannon.”
Something quickly noticed is the role women have as main characters in this tale.
“I think that Kathryn is fantastic in the production, and every production that challenges an audience’s idea of who gets to play what is terrific,” Burns said. “It’s a great example of non-traditional casting that has worked really well.”
One of those women is Elia Monte-Brown who plays the role of Alcibiades. Monte-Brown, who’s done the show during a challenging time, is grateful to be part of such a solid collection of talent.
“Simon Godwin has done such a lovely job creating a strong company of actors. I feel so comfortable and safe with them,” Monte-Brown said. “Being pregnant while doing this show that investigates female power and female rage, and what militant leadership looks like in the role of Alcibiades, has been really fascinating.”
Throughout the performance, guests experience both sides of the emotional spectrum, going from what it looks like to have an endlessly generous spirit to how greed can make someone seem almost out of touch and everything in between.
“At the end of the play, we really wanted to make sure that Alcibiades had turned the page from revenge and violence to a more hopeful peace-based approach,” she added.
Having a small but mighty cast leaves room for some to fill in as multiple characters. One actor who has enjoyed taking on this challenge is Yonatan Gebeyehu who plays the role of the poet, Caphis and a banker.
“What I find challenging and delightful is how specific you can make the differences of the people,” Gebeyehu said. “The joy is getting to make really specific choices and really pushing as far as you can. Nothing about these people is the same.”
“In many ways, we’re at the beginning of our journey here, but I think the artistic joy is putting something up as quickly as we did and really seeing all the pieces come together so fast,” Gebeyehu added. “Although it’s not a new play for the actors, it’s a new play for the theatre and watching them quickly build this castle for themselves and having it support us has been such a joy.”
Timon of Athens will run through March 22 at the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Michael R. Klein Theatre. For more information regarding ticket purchase and more, visit www.shakespearetheatre.org.
Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Michael R. Klein Theatre: 450 7th St. NW, DC; 202-547-1122; www.shakespearetheatre.org