Timon of Athens

Shakespeare: the funny bits

Dramatis Personæ

Timon, a noble meerkat of Athens
Pumbaa, a warthog, steward to Timon
Alsimbiades, an Athenian lion
Apemantus, a philosopher and baboon
Various flatterers, servants, meerkats and hyenas

Act 1. The Jungle

A great banquet of grubs and insects is serv’d in by Timon’s household.

Enter Timon and Pumbaa.

Tim. Can you believe it, Pumbaa, we’re in our very own Shakespeare play!

Pum. Gee, I don’t know, Timon, are you sure?

Tim. Am I sure? Would I make this up? Timon of Athens!

Pum. Athens? But this looks just like the jungle.

Tim. Oh, Pumbaa, you don’t have to take everything so literally. It’s poetry! This means the big time for us – no more bit parts in other people’s stories, no more cheap comedy antics. This is High Culture. The Bard –

[Strikes dramatic pose, holding out a wildebeest’s skull five times bigger than he is

The Swan of Avon –

[The skull collapses on Pumbaa, squashing him flat.

Pum. [muffled] But how are you going to pay for all this feasting?

Enter Alsimbiades and with him several flattering meerkats. They sit down to dine.

Tim. Are you kidding me? This is the jungle! We don’t have to pay for anything! Don’t you remember our catchphrase, old pal? Hakuna matata! No worries! Why, everybody here loves me! What could possibly go wrong?

Enter Apemantus.

Tim. Oh, great, look who’s here, someone even more cheerful than you. Hey, Ape-man! How’s the old monkey-shines?

Apem. Immortal gods, I crave no pelf;
I pray for no man but myself.
Grant I never prove so fond
To trust man on his oath or bond,
Or a harlot for her weeping,
Or a dog that seems a-sleeping,
Or a keeper with my freedom,
Or my friends, if I should need ’em.
Amen. So fall to’t,
Rich men sin, and I eat root.

[Eats and drinks

Tim. And it’s lovely to see you, too, my friend.

Apem. [through a mouthful] Bite me.

Tim. Alsimbiades, old buddy. You’re heart’s really out in the savannah right now, isn’t it?

Alsim. My heart is ever at your service, my lord.

Tim. You had rather be at a breakfast of enemies than a dinner of friends.

Alsim. So that they were bleeding new, my lord, there’s no meat like ’em; I could wish my best friend at such a feast.

[He swallows a pawful of termite larvæ. together with a flatterer who got in the way. The remaining flatterers back away nervously.

Tim. Ahhh… heh heh. Always a pleasure to, uh, have you around, Sim, old pal.

Enter three Hyenas.

Pum. Timon? Timon? There’s some hyenas here.

Tim. Not now, Pumbaa, we’re in the middle of a banquet!

Pum. Ok, but they seem very insistent. Something about an invoice? For three gross of assorted grubs, and the insects?

Tim. Well! Will you, ha, look at the time! Gotta get my beauty sleep! [Aside to Pumbaa] Let’s get outta here! [Exeunt, chased by hyenas]

Act 2. Timon’s cave

Enter Timon.

Tim. Oh, woe is me. No more friends, no more parties. Nothing but my lonely cave.

[He pokes around in the dirt.

My lonely, cold, damp cave, with nothing but –

[Picks up a gold nugget.

These worthless nuggets of pure gold –

Enter Pumbaa.

Pum. Timon! Hey, Timon! Where are you? Timon! Sim chased the hyenas away, it’s safe to come back now. Timooooon!!

Tim. No more fancy living – no more presents and flatterers –

Pum. Hey, there you are, Timon! What are you doing?

Tim. Leave me, Pumbaa. Leave me alone – with my pain – and my gold – I’ll never go back to the jungle – never eat delicious grubs again –

Pum. I don’t get it, Timon. Why’d you leave the jungle and come to this cave? And what’s all this shiny yellow stuff? Doesn’t anything else happen in this play?

Tim. Oh, Pumbaa. Don’t you know anything about literature? There’s a very serious message here, about the fickle nature of fortune, and how all your earthly goods can be stripped away. Plus, I have a big tragic death scene [Produces a script.] which happens… let me see…

Pum. Gee, that sounds sad, Timon.

Tim. No, no, it’s wonderful, let me show you, it happens… Act 5, scene 1, I go back into my cave, and then, scene 2, 3, no, 4, “Enter a Soldier as a Messenger, My noble General, Timon is dead” – wait….
[He flips the pages back and forth

What?! Offstage?! My big tragic death scene is offstage?! This is ridiculous! Where’s the drama? Where’s the passion?

Pum. It’s probably for the best. It sounds like it could be dangerous. And, anyway, your dying offstage would symbolise your character’s total retreat from all worldly entanglements. Come on home and have some grubs.

One response to “Timon of Athens

  1. ————-SMACK DOWN—————-

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