Michael Pennington was a late replacement for Alan Bates as Timon in Gregory Doran's energetic production.

Michael Pennington wears a blue and purple jacket and puts his hands in a glass bowl.
Michael Pennington as Timon, 1999, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
Photo by Donald Cooper © RSC Browse and license our images


Gregory Doran's production could have been in jeopardy when his Timon, Alan Bates, was forced to pull out due to illness. However, Michael Pennington was able to step in as the unlucky Timon, bringing his large amount of previous RSC experience to the role.


This was the first time the play had been seen at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon since 1965, when Paul Scofield played the title role and Michael Pennington was Titus, one of Timon's creditors. Considered a tricky role because Timon's character changes so dramatically, Pennington was praised for finding a connecting thread between the two sides of his personality, making him a loner who uses his situation to keep his distance from other people. 


The production featured a score by world-famous jazz musician Duke Ellington for the 1963 Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada. The edgy jazz and blues score suited the droll tone of Doran's production.


Stephen Brimson Lewis designed both the costumes and the sets for the production. His boldly eclectic costumes mixed Jacobean elements with classical and modern and were described by critic John Peters as "flamboyant classical-renaissance punk" Sunday Times, 12 September 1999.  In the following gallery you can see design sketches, detailed costume sheets and production photos showing the journey from page to stage.


May you a better feast never behold,
You knot of mouth-friends. Smoke and lukewarm water
Is your perfection.

Timon, Act 3 Scene 7 (6 in some editions)

A disillusioned Timon invites his fickle friends to a second feast and when the dishes are uncovered they reveal warm water and stones which he throws at them with curses. The guests think he has gone mad.

In the next gallery you can see the storyboard, set model and relevant prompt book pages which reveal how the scene was created.

Theatrical programme cover for Timon of Athens 1999 featuring Michael Pennington head shot in profile looking right



Royal Shakespeare Theatre

James Auden - Amazon

Kemi Baruwa - Phrynia

Andrew Bone - Amazon, Flaminius

Ewen Cummins - Lucilius

Sam Dastor - Poet, Cupid

Andrew Dennis - Bandit, Merchant

Joseph England - Amazon, Bandit. Jeweller

Michael Fenner - Ventidius

Geff Francis - Lucius

David Hobbs - Sempronius

Graham Ingle - Amazon, Painter

Peter Kelly - Lucullus

Nadine Marshall - Timandra

Richard McCabe - Apemantus

Nicholas Monu - Servilius

Owen Oakeshott - Bandit, Friend to Alcibiades

Michael Pennington - Timon

Rupert Penry-Jones - Alcibiades

Peter Reeves - Old Athenian, Senator of Athens

Ewart James Walters - Senator of Athens

John Woodvine - Flavius




Director – Gregory Doran

Designer – Stephen Brimson Lewis

Lighting Designer – Howard Harrison

Music – Duke Ellington, John Woolf (arranger)

Movement - Sian Williams

Fight arranger - Terry King


The RSC's archive is held at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. You can visit the Library and Archives there to look at production related information, including photos, videos of shows and stage management documents:

Shakespeare Centre Library and Archive homepage

You can search the RSC catalogue here: 

RSC performance database

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