When I found out that Timon of Athens was essentially published by mistake, well as as a stop gap between two of Shakespeare's more famous plays. I wasn't surprised.
However, the National Theatre makes a triumphant production of frankly rather weak words and plot from Shakespeare. The story centres around Timon, a man of wealthy and seemingly endless means who when he ultimately loses his fortune is abandoned by all those he favoured.
The National replaces Greece with a more day London- only slightly more apocalyptic edge. The year is 2008-the recession. All the scenery is filled with hints of the current financial crisis. Sleak and vicious bankers in their steel and glass towers, HSBC's logo can be seen through a window.
The world outside is also very powerful, heaps of rubbish are piled everywhere. As Simon Russell Beale leaps about the stage gesticulating the graffiti and destroyed buildings all add to his performance.
Beale also makes the play watchable, an accomplished Shakespearean actor he injects emotion into Timon's plight. Although ultimately the audience member comes away thinking that Timon is an idiot and that he is be pitied rather than sympathised with.
The play is flawed, no doubt about it but a great set and backdrop as well as some serious editing of Shakespeare's script makes the play an enjoyable way to spend the evening out.