SACRED FOOLS | MAINSTAGE 1998 - Timon of Athens
Timon of Athens

Backstage West/Drama-Logue CRITIC'S PICK!


October 22 - November 21, 1998

Michael Louden, Piper Henry,
Jennifer Wu and Laura Ford


Timon of Athens is one of Shakespeare's most obscure and least performed plays.  It is the story of an incredibly
wealthy, powerful and generous man who lives way beyond his means.  When the bills come due and he discovers
that he is broke, and turns to his so-called friends to learn life's harsh lesson.Sacred Fools while remaining true to
the text of the play has set Timon in a world that thrives on insincerity and schmoozing: Hollywood & Las Vegas
of the 90's.  Amongst Timon's friends are screenwriters, casting directors, crooked cops, strippers and burnt out
movie stars. 
Cast Production

Michael Louden - Timon
Jill Bennett - Apemantus
Jon Hamm - Flavius
J. Haran - Alcibiades
Lisette Bross - The Painter, Varros Servant, Timons Therapist
Marc Ian Sklar - The Poet, Lucullus
Joel Christian - The Merchant, Sempronius, The Bouncer
Danielle Surrette - Flaminius, Reporter
Scott McShane - Servilius, Reporter
Bruno Oliver - The Senator, Lucullus's Servant, Hautboy
Desi Doyen - The Jeweler, Isadore, Reporter
Abby Wolf - Caphis, Reporter
Robert D'Entremont - Ventidius, Hostilius, Reporter
Piper Henry - Lucilius, Timandra
Laura Ford - Cupid, Phrynia, First Stranger
Jennifer Wu - Jennifer

Produced for Sacred Fools by Bil Garrity
& Mark TJ Lifrieri
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Scott Rabinowitz
Production Stage Manager - Aaron Francis
Assistant Stage Manager - Brenda Price
Lighting Design by Aaron Francis
Set Design by Aaron Francis & Scott Rabinowitz
Costume Design by Jee OK
Assistant Costume Design - Jenisen Svendson
Sound Design by Scott Rabinowitz & Brenda Price
Prop Master - Tom Roddy
Creative Consultant - Danielle Surrette
Light Board Operator - Laurie Bosco
Publicity - Philip Sokoloff
Casting by - D. Durrette Casting

Awards Page


award_trophy2.gif (893 bytes) PRODUCTION
award_trophy2.gif (893 bytes) DIRECTION
award_trophy2.gif (893 bytes) ENSEMBLE


Jill Bennett & Michael Louden

The Cast

L  to R: Row 1 - Tom Roddy, Piper Henry, Robert d'Entrmont, Abby Wolf
Scott Rabinowitz, Michael Louden, Jill Bennett, Lisette Bross, Scott Johnston, Jee Ok,
Row 2 - Marc Ian Sklar, Jennifer Wu, Joel Christian, Danielle Surrette
Row 3 - J. Haran, Laura Ford, Jon Hamm, Desi Doyen, Bruno Oliver, Aaron Francis, Brenda Price, Laurie Bosco

timon5.jpg (12777 bytes)

November, 1998

    It's rare to find a production of a Shakespeare play you haven't seen a dozen times, and an audience seeking entertainment might think twice before attempting to tackle Timon of Athens, which was beyond reasonable doubt only partly written by the Bard, with not very good contributions from unnamed others.

    What will bring people into the theatre is the Sacred Fools Company, a group now in its second year, which is dedicated to bringing vibrant life to challenging and original works which invigorate, enlighten, and entertain. (Their words, not mine.) Under Scott Rabinowitz's direction, Timon of Athens does exactly that.

    It's a simple storyline: Timon (Michael Louden), a wealthy player in a high-stakes game of give and take--mostly take--is joyful benefactor to a bevy of hangers-on who are his best friends as long as he has deep and generous pockets. Parties at Timon's house are legendary; the food and wine and women flow fast and classy; the party favors handed out to his guests are a millionaire's trinkets.

    Impervious to the warnings of his steward, Flavius (a sound Jon Hamm), Timon spends and lends, is a generous patron to starving artists, and foresees no end to his fortune. When the reality of his penniless situation hits home, Timon finds himself friendless, with enormous debts, badgered by those who had benefited most from his generosity, and refused help by those he had helped. His self-indulgent delusions turn to fierce misanthropy, and he moves from castle to cave, unable to reconcile his friends' betrayal, their greed, lust, back-stabbing selfishness, and ingratitude. There's a certain nobility in his inability to adjust to a new scenario, even when he becomes rich once more.

    The beauty of Rabinowitz's concept is its creativity. Without changing a word of the original text, he has set the play in a very modern environment, in which many of the same evils found in ancient Athens are said to pollute the already polluted air: Hollywood (the psychological state of) and Las Vegas. It works surprisingly well; one scene takes place in a casting office on the Warner lot in Burbank, one at the Golden Horseshoe in Las Vegas. The clarity of Rabinowitz's vision and his inventive playfulness make this totally accessible Shakespeare (or whoever). In fact, the muddled last third of the original play is considerably clarified by Sacred Fools.

    Liberties have been taken with cross-gender casting--now many of the Senators and servants are played by women, though still referred to as men in the dialogue. The role of the churlish Apemantus, a told-you-so philosopher, is played to a fare-thee-well by a sultry Jill Bennet, who can destroy the vulnerable Timon with a curled-lip sneer or allure him with a dart of passionate sexuality.

    J. Haran is a sturdy Alcibiades, a crooked cop on Timon's payroll; Jennifer Wu, Piper Henry, and Laura Ford, all playing multiple roles, are at their best as the lascivious lap dancers who entertain Timon's party guests; Marc Ian Sklar is greasily good as a fawning poet and rich man Lucullus. Joel Christian makes a fine mark as Sempronius, who refuses the impoverished Timon because, though he was the first to receive Timon's bounty, he feels his honor has been flouted because he was the last to be asked for help.

    A busy ensemble of 16 players doubles and triples in clashing brass, a jazzy interpretation of a classic that never was. Majorly inspired set design and changes, sound design, and lighting by Rabinowitz, Aaron Francis, and Brenda Price, and neat costumes by Jee OK.

    - Madeleine Shaner, 1998 Backstage West/DramaLogue
  • L.A. TIMES
    "Timon of Athens" is not considered one of Shakespeare's great tragedies. Scholars argue that it is unfinished-roughly sketched out, with irregular blank verse patterns and some plot inconsistencies.

    Director Scott Rabinowitz transports Timon to a Hollywood-esque Athens, giving this seldom produced play a pointed yet sometimes heavy-handed update at the Sacred Fools Theatre.

    Michael Louden is an attractive, charming Timon who begins the play as a godlike, slightly indulgent philanthropist. He is happy and unconcerned, seemingly surrounded by friends, partying with high-class prostitutes provided by policeman Alcibiades (J. Haran).   Nothing darkens his life except his sometime lover, an angry Apemantus (Jill Bennet), and the mild-mannered servant Flavius (Jon Hamm), who quivers over the increasing enormity of his spendthrift master's debt.  Timon soon discovers that when his wealth disappears, so do most of the beneficiaries of his generosity. When he again finds wealth-conveniently in Las Vegas, an option that Shakespeare didn't have-he remains embittered at the shallowness of his fellow men.

    In this version, philosopher Apemantus is transformed into a snarling black-clad woman with eyelids heavily blackened with eye shadow and an even darker attitude. But the exact nature of the mutual attraction between Apemantus and Timon is never adeuately explained in this staging.

    Rabinowitz does make the nature of Timon's sudden windfall and his demise more explicit than the original text and it mostly works. Yet he underlines some passages needlessly with heavy spotlights or lengthy pauses.

    Despite its faults, this production enlightens the text, alleviates some plot problems and features some fine performances, making it well worth seeing.

    -J.J.M., 1998 LA Times

  • L.A. WEEKLY *Recommended
    Shakespeare's unfinished tragedy is a poor relation to King Lear, both involve leaders who give away their riches to false friends or family and then, in their time of need, are abandoned by those same beneficiaries. But Timon is a comparatively repugnant fellow, an ostentatious pleasure seeker who comes across as shallow as the sycophants who surround him. Director Scott Rabinowitz only partly succeeds in his stylish, contemporary adaptation of the rarely produced play: In Act 1, the themes of greed and betrayal translate well to Hollywood and its denizens, and without altering the language, Rabinowitz ingeniously brings out the humor. But he loses momentum in Act 2, which, although cleverly set in a Vegas casino, is truncated to focus attention solely on the static, mad rantings of the disillusioned inconsolable central character. Michael Louden gives a blustering, Richard Burtonesque interpretation to Timon, creating sparks with punky Jill Bennet as Apemantus, the surly voice of reason, they're supported by a deliciously wicked cast of reporters, drug addicts, strippers and second-rate artists. A diverse backdrop of pop music, ranging from Burt Bacharach to Marilyn Manson, enhances the production's sleazy atmosphere with musical irony. Even though the second half falls short, this Timon is worth checking out, if only for the sheer fun and vivacity of the first half.

    1998 LA Weekly