I Hate People; or Timon of Athens - Everglades Gardens (NSW)
By William Shakespeare and Tom Middleton, adapted by Damien Ryan and Margaret Thanos. Directed by Margaret Thanos.
Reviewed by Chanele Mao
Everglades Gardens, Leura
Season 6 January – 21 January 2024
An electric production from Sport for Jove that highlights one of Shakespeare's lesser known plays - just remember to bring everything you need for outdoor theatre in the mountains!
If you have not heard of the Shakespearean play, Timon of Athens you are not alone. Sport for Jove’s I Hate People; or Timon of Athens, is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s lesser-known – and not often staged - plays. Timon has been likened to Shakespeare’s masterpiece King Lear, which has a similar overtone, but Timon stands on its own right. Whether or not you have heard of it, brace yourselves for a truly entertaining, epic, fun and dark tragicomedy about a wealthy Athenian nobleman and his penchant for being naively generous to a fault, all with the natural backdrop of outdoor theatre.
It’s the 15th year of the annual Leura Shakespeare Festival this year and the Blue Mountains setting of Timon adds a unique lens in which to watch this play unfold. As you walk into the beautiful and serene landscape of the Everglades House & Gardens in Leura, you cannot help but feel that you are walking towards something special and exciting. The sweet blooms of the summer flowers are on show and provide a lovely backdrop to the performance of Timon.
The cast of Sport for Jove's I Hate People; or Timon of Athens. Images by Kathy Luu.
The story of Timon is worth telling and a chilling reminder of what human nature can do when confronted with sin and greed. The staging of this play outdoors made well use of nature: the wind, the trees, the birds and cockatoos flying overhead squawking at times added a supernatural gloss to the story. It felt like an ominous foreshadowing of what’s to come for our dear sweet-natured, but fool-hardy Timon.
Timon is a play about the downfall of the titular character, Timon of Athens (Damien Ryan), a fun-loving and foolish nobleman, who gives away almost everything to his so called “friends”, whom in turn lavish him with praise and false pretences, only to shut him down when he needed finances when falling upon hard times. A friend in need is a friend indeed, which Timon learned only too late. This eventual revelation shocks, angers and deeply disheartens Timon, who in turn takes his revenge on his band of knaves with a final banquet. As they say revenge is a dish best served cold, which is what is served before he leaves Athens for good, to live as a recluse in a cave far away from the city.
Ryan, also the Artistic Director of Sport for Jove, was empathetic, genuine, and interesting to watch and quite literally bares all to the audience on a balmy mid-summer’s night. He shows the natural weakness of man, as well as his pride that closed Timon’s ears to prudent counsel from his long-suffering servant and accountant, Flavia – here gender-swapped by Deb Galanos.
The cast of Timon were exceptional and played the humour, shrewdness, and seriousness of the characters very well. Ava Maddon (who played various characters including Persephone and Featured Dancer), brought beguiling charm, youth, and wanton desire to the show. The chemistry between her character as the Featured Dancer and Timon felt authentic and electric. Mark Booth (Apemantus), was also a stand-out as the only openly critical character of Timon in the story, openly holding up a mirror to Timon’s excessive indulgence and lack of restraint. The ensemble moved well together and were wholly in-sync throughout the show as can be seen in director Margaret Thanos’ choreography and movement.
Be prepared as you’re cordially invited to a soirée at the estate of Timon of Athens
The first half of the play is engaging, outrageous and funny and ends on such a high that the audience are left eager for the second half. It couldn’t be helped that the second act after the intermission dragged in comparison. Similarly, to Timon, who was lost and alone, the play tended to meander in the vast unknown and struggled to find its feet. It was also fitting that the temperature in the mountains changed, becoming dark, chilly, and cold whilst sitting on the white plastic chairs in the garden - so be prepared to bring something warm to wear!
The moral lessons of Timon are many and will allow you to ponder on your own what life lessons can be distilled from this play. Whether this be to pick your friends wisely for the wolves hide amongst the sheep, or to not forsake good advice from those who are closest to you, or even that classic notion that a wise friend is worth more than all the gold in the world.
If you fancy seeing an outdoor theatre set in the lush Everglades gardens this summer, you may wish to bring a warm jacket and some fine food and drinks with you to make the most of the experience. Be prepared though as you’re taken on a journey to ancient Greece and are cordially invited to a soirée at the estate of Timon of Athens! Don’t miss out as tickets are selling fast.
I Hate People; or Timon of Athens
The play runs for approximately 2 hours 40 mins with a 20-minute interval.
Painter, Cupid, Caphis, Theo, Fourth Senator - Matt Abotomey
Apemantus - Mike Booth
Poet, Isidore’s Servant, Sophia, Timandra - Lib Campbell
Alcibiades - Eleni Cassimatis
Flavius - Deborah Galanos
Merchant, Lord 3, First Senator, Varro - Jake Harvey
Diplomat, Filia, Bandit 1 - Lucy Lock
Jeweller, Lydia’s Servant, Penelope, Phrynia, Featured Dancer - Ava Madon
Kostas, Messenger, Lydia, Soldier, Bandit 3 - Tasha O’Brien
Athenian Father, Lex, Third Senator, Bandit 2 - Diego Retamales
Timon - Damien Ryan
Vasilios, Varro’s Servant, Stavros, Hippolytus, Second Senator - David Soncin
Margaret Thanos (Director, Movement Director and Set Design)
Jess Zlotnick (Associate Director and Set Design)
Sorie Bangura (Production Manager)
Isabella Milkovitsch (Stage Manager)
Ruth Lowry (Lighting Designer)
Angus Evans (Composer)
Aloma Barnes (Costume Designer)
Lily Moody (Costume Assistant)