Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Of all his plays, this is probably the most maligned, it being perhaps a collaboration with Middleton, but any way you look at it, it is a striking piece.
The simple plot gives way to wild passions and simple fortunes and some of the broadest brush strokes I've ever seen. It's also as stark as death.
From great fortune and flatterers surrounding him, Timon is the absolute Good Man who gives away all his fortune to hear the praise of assholes. When he loses it all and asks for help from all his so called friends, they spit in his eye. He goes mad, hating all mankind and goes to live as the basest beggar, wildly exhorting all comers to do evil upon everyone else, to break and spite and die.
Finding fortune under his feet, even as he's digging tubers to eat, serves him nothing at all. He hates, and gives away his wealth to old friends who happened upon him, to whores, thieves, and lickspittles, all to just get rid of them.
The bile from Timon's mouth is pretty awesome. The man has gone from pure goodness to pure rageful spite overnight, and one thing that most readers or viewers of this play might discover is that there is no third act. Its message is as plain and stark as day, even if some of the secondary characters make interesting counterpoints, such as in not wanting so as to not to welcome either happiness or grief, or the last note in the music, where compromise and peace has got to be a better note to go out on than Timon's.
For when he dies, he dies hating all humanity, and there is no quarter, no justice, and only abject nihilism.
Of course people aren't going to like this play. :)
If you're of a certain twisted temperament and like a twisted tale that defies expectations, such as an esoteric bad horror fan or a devotee of Samuel Beckett, then you might just discover that this little jewel might fit in your dark-hearted crown, or at least in a shit-stain'd seat of honor.
'Tis dark. Very dark. Expect no light or quarter. :)
View all my reviews