Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Philadelphia

Timon of Athens

Also see Tim's reviews of The Prescott Method, The Life (and Death) of Harry Houdini
and Henry V

Felicia Leight and Christopher Coucill
Photo by Kate Raines
Timon of Athens, Shakespeare's play about a wealthy and charitable man who is deserted by his friends when he falls into financial ruin, has plenty of lessons for a modern audience. It could be seen as a commentary on our precarious economy, where ruination is far too often just one bad credit report away. When the noble, respectable Timon abandons Athens and retreats to a life of isolation in a cave, it can seem like a parable for the cynicism that infects so much of contemporary life. And it can make an audience consider the true meaning of love, kindness and appreciation. As director Dan Hodge writes in the program for The Philadelphia Artists' Collective's new production, it can make you wonder if friends "love me for who I am, or for what I can do for them."

Much to ponder, indeed. But Hodge's slow-moving production is too restrained to make its points strongly. While there are a few lively performances, including Charlotte Northeast as a misanthropic philosopher and Mark Knight as an eye-rolling, pompous creditor—plus a wide-ranging, well-rounded performance by Christopher Coucill in the title role—most of this Timon of Athens isn't engaging enough to make one care about Timon or his plight. The overall mood, right from the chaotically-staged opening scene, is unrelentingly sour. The production doesn't really come to life until its second act, when Coucill and Northeast get into a bitter and vindictive argument. (Fittingly, it's an argument over which of them hates civilization more.)

Adding to the downbeat tone is the fact that the production isn't interesting to look at. It's performed with no sets and minimal scenery, and Katherine Fritz's costumes are mediocre, consisting mostly of shapeless, sometimes ill-fitting robes and tunics. The music contains snatches of single-string classical guitar and what sounds like a toy piano, and it's used inconsistently; many of the awkward scene changes are carried out in silence.

Timon of Athens runs through April 20, 2013 and is presented by The Philadelphia Artists' Collective at Broad Street Ministry, 315 South Broad Street, Philadelphia. Tickets are $20, and can be purchased by phone at 800-838-3006 or online at More information on the production can be found at

-- Tim Dunleavy

Privacy Policy