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Timon of Athens

Botanic Gardens, Glasgow
Four stars

There's a wild party going on at the opening of Jennifer Dick's 1920s style adaptation of one of Shakespeare's most wayward tragedies, which forms the opening production of this year's Bard in the Botanics season. With the great hedonist that gives the play its title here transformed into the grandest of dames, Nicole Cooper's Timon shimmies into the Kibble Palace sipping champagne before winding up the gramophone and wriggling her way into a slinky little number. As assorted pleasure-seeking gold-diggers fawn over her affections, Timon buys her way into the in-crowd of poets and painters, with only EmmaClaire Brightlyn's glum philosopher Apemantus steering clear of all the fun. When the bills have to be made, however, poor Timon is left in the gutter, with barely a star in sight.

With allusions to the Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression that followed in its wake, Dick's production cuts to the core of a society divided by wealth. Cooper burls her way through this six actor version with increasing abandon. Her interplay with Brightlyn as Apemantus is key here. While opposites attracted when Timon was a good time girl, her acquired misanthropy make the pair uncomfortable equals. There is a strong turn too from Kirk Bage as disgraced military man Alcibiades.

As she crawls through the world she's found herself washed up in, Timon uses a new pot of gold she stumbles on to get her own back on the parasites who bled her dry. When Cooper serves up platters of torn up bills to her former courtiers, it's one of the production's most damning illustrations of what it really means to be rich or poor.

 
The Herald, June 27th 2017

ends

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