Here we are, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare, housesitting with Sid, the chickens, and the other (offscreen) livestock.
Most of us know a Juliet, a Brutus, a Hamlet and an Othello or two, but almost everybody, at one time or another, has been a Timon. Who hasn’t lived beyond their means? Mistaken things for relationships? It’s a very 21st century disease. Of all the tragedies, this is the only one about a conflict that concerns everyone, everywhere.
But instead of being the most familiar of the tragedies, The Life of Timon of Athens is unread and unperformed. (Though the National Theatre experimented with a clever update recently.) Probably because the language doesn’t move. The absence of poetry is really shocking. The language has none of the richness of Othello or the others.
Scholars have suggested that it’s a first draft. It’s certainly plausible to imagine WS (or WS and Middleton) working out the story in rough. After the roles were cast, the language could be customized and heightened according to the actors’ abilities.
That being said, Timon’s servants are given a scene in Act 4. After he’s lost all his money, and his household is dispersed, the servants say goodbye to each other, “All broken implements of a ruined house” ...