Written December 27, 2014
Director Nicholas Hytner & Co. want us to believe that Shakespeare's "Timon of Athens" can serve as a parable for the financial crisis of our day. They fail to distinguish the foolish "generosity" of an ancient Athenian aristocrat from the predatory nature of modern capitalists. The present crisis did not arise from the moneymen's excessive "generosity," nor even from their profligate expenditures on luxuries but, rather, from their disdain for the modest profits available from productive investments. Instead, they seek to vastly increase their margins by means of wild speculations like the "sub-prime mortgage" fraud, a scheme for extracting the last bit of property from the most backward elements of society. By offering us the tents of the pathetically ineffective "Occupy" movement as the modern counterpart to the rampaging plebeian mobs of "Timon," the luminaries of the National Theater demonstrate both their ideological confusion and the play's unsuitability as parable.