ATG owners top The Stage 100 List

Chief executives Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire of the Ambassador Theatre Group have come top, for the fifth year running, of The Stage 100 List – the industry paper’s annual power list. The theatre group, established over 20 years ago, owns 39 theatres in the UK.

Last year saw ATG undergo a period of change and growth: the company purchased New York theatre, Foxwoods, home to the soon-to-close production Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark. This marks the first UK theatre group to own a Broadway venue. Later in the year ATG was bought out by a US private equity firm for £350m. Deputy editor of The Stage Alistair Smith described the deal as a ‘game-changer’ and ‘the biggest theatre transaction that has ever taken place in the UK market.’

The National Theatre team of Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr, who came joint top with ATG’s Panter and Squire in the 2013 list, have come in second in this year’s fixtures. Andrew Lloyd Webber, having previously topped the list six times, is in third place. Cameron Mackintosh and Nick Allott come in at four and Sonia Friedman at five.

New entries in the top ten include Gregory Doran and Catherine Mallyon for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Sam Mendes and Caro Newling for Neal Street Productions, and theatre director Jamie Lloyd.

For the full The Stage 100 List, visit www.thestage.co.uk.

Theatre figures feature in New Year honours

66ème Festival de Venise (Mostra)Leading figures from the theatre industry have been recognised in 2013’s New Year honours.

Scottish actor Ewan McGregor is to receive an OBE for his services to drama, as will Adrian Lester, who will play Othello in Nicholas Hytner’s new production at the National later this year.

Other recipients include: RADA registrar Patricia Myers, for her services to higher education; Guardian theatre critic Michael Billington; theatre producer and chief executive of Nimax theatres, Nica Burns; and Talawa Theatre Company’s artistic director Patricia Cumper.

National Theatre: Timon of Athens – performance review

Star rating
****
One of Shakespeare’s more obscure plays brought to the stage of the National with a modern twist.

The National Theatre’s contribution to the Cultural Olympiad (Credit: Johan Persson)

This production of Timon of Athens is the National Theatre’s contribution to the World Shakespeare Festival and the Cultural Olympiad – and what an interesting choice to make.

Not only does it showcase one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known works, but director Nicholas Hytner has decided to use it to touch upon the world-wide financial crisis and the societal obsession with money.

The first act is stylish and modern, with Timon’s dinner guests appearing in an array of designer clothing, schmoozing one other on slick designer furniture – comparable to a scene from Made in Chelsea, especially with Tom Robertson’s humorous, middle-class toff performance of Ventidius. But with Timon’s change in fortunes, and no real friends to count upon, his world falls into disrepair and he then must reside among the desolate foundations of the city’s skyscrapers.

The cast’s performances are very enjoyable, with Simon Russell Beale meeting both demands of Timon’s generous nature and then becoming a hater of human kind. There are very enjoyable moments of humour, laced within the tragedy. The set and design is imaginative and interesting to observe.

But, however much life and modernity director Nicholas Hytner has tried to bring to the play, it’s just not one of Shakespeare’s best works. The second act lacks the energy of the first, and with Timon becoming an anti-humanist from the betrayal of his friends, you feel little warmth towards his bitterness.

If you are to see a production of Timon of Athens, this is a great one to pick and the National has made the best of what is thought to be one of Shakespeare’s most problematic plays.

Timon of Athens closes on 1 November. But, if you are unable to make it to the South Bank venue, you can catch the final performance as part of NT Live – where it will be broadcast to cinemas across the globe.

To find the closest venue to you broadcasting Timon of Athens on 1 November visit NT Live. For other information about the production, visit www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/timon-of-athens.