Music Box Theatre Presents National Theatre Live's TIMON OF ATHENS, 11/28
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by BWW News Desk
Chicago's Music Box Theatre continues its collaboration with the UK's National Theatre Live, the best of British theatre broadcast live to cinemas worldwide. Up next: the great Simon Russell Beale takes the title role in Timon of Athens, based on Shakespeare's strange fable of consumption, debt and ruin, written in collaboration with Thomas Middleton and directed by Nicholas Hytner (Miss Saigon, The History Boys). The one-time Chicago showing happens Wednesday, November 28, 7 p.m. at the Music Box Theatre, 3733 North Southport Avenue. Tickets to National Theatre Live productions are $15 in advance at the Music Box Theatre box office and online at www.musicboxtheatre.com/collections/national-theatre-live-presents; $18 at the door.
Wealthy friend to the rich and powerful, patron of the arts, ostentatious host, Timon of Athens (Beale) is surrounded by freeloaders and sycophants. He vastly outspends his resources but, finding his coffers empty, reassures his loyal steward that all will be well. When he calls upon his associates, instead of offering help, they hang him out to dry. After a final, vengeful banquet, Timon withdraws to a literal and emotional wasteland, living off roots and pouring curses on a morally bankrupt Athens.
Simon Russell Beale has been described by the Independent as "the greatest stage actor of his generation." His recent work for The National Theatre includes London Assurance, Much Ado About Nothing and Collaborators, John Hodge's Olivier Award-nominated new play in which he portrayed Stalin.
Now in its fourth season, National Theatre Live is the brainchild of Northwestern University alumnus David Sabel, The National Theatre's Head of Digital. Sabel explains, "When you think of filmed theatre it's the exact opposite of what it's supposed to be: there in the space, seeing the sweat and feeling the emotion and heat of the room. How is that going to work? People are surprised at how connected they feel. A huge part of that is the shared experience; if you were watching it on TV, even if it was live, you'd go and make a cup of tea, but here you are buying a ticket and reacting and applauding together.
"It's like filming a sports match; you take the audience's eye to where the ball goes. If we've done our job, you should feel you saw a piece of theatre, not a film, even though there were probably lots of close ups where the director was choosing what you see." Since its debut in 2009, National Theatre Live has expanded from 40 theatres in the UK to nearly 300 screens worldwide. Visit www.musicboxtheatre.com/collections/national-theatre-live-presents for additional details.