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Timon of Athens (1981 TV Movie)
8/10
A must for any fan of the Bard
20 May 2001
The history of Shakespeare's Timon of Athens is a little murky; critics speculate it was never performed in the author's lifetime, and the version that has been passed through the ages is a working draft, one the Bard tinkered on for years and eventually discarded. It is considered his weakest play.

Well, that may be, but it's still Shakespeare, which means it is still a classic. It does not have the strong storyline of Othello or the poetic depth of King Lear, but it has got a great lead character who has a very dynamic arc. And this BBC production of Timon of Athens is absolutely brilliant.

Jonathon Pryce gives an astonishing performance as Timon. He is such a little lamb at the beginning, so likeable, so naïve, and his fall is deeply moving and terribly sad. Put this performance up there with Derek Jacobi's Richard II and Laurence Olivier's Henry V. It is that good. This should be required viewing for anyone who wants to be an actor. Watching this, I never once thought, `There's Jonathon Pryce.' I thought, `Oh, poor Timon! Don't trust them! They're flatterers!'

The director and producer make some interesting (and strange) choices. Some of the dialogue is spoken out of earshot, for what seems like a long time. And the action takes place in ancient Greece, but all the characters are dressed in Elizabethan garb. I wonder: is it because they are trying to fashion something as it might have looked in Shakespeare's day? And if so, why would they do that?

That aside, there are a lot of nice directorial touches throughout, and very good work from the supporting players.

The BBC's Timon of Athens is a must for any Shakespeare fan. Watch this video!
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