To go to the theatre or not to go? That could be the question, except here on the Vineyard this weekend. Shakespeare for the Masses is back and doing Hamlet, the first play the troupe performed when it began five seasons ago.
Shakespeare for the Masses is, one could say, a return to the time of Billy the Bard — William Shakespeare to most. When he wrote and produced his plays, Shakespeare was indeed for the masses. A whirling outdoor mud pit for seats and up on the stage tales of lust, power, gluttony, palace intrigue and lots of violence — one could say it was the reality television of its time as the stories mirrored the comings and goings of regular folks, and also brought the supremely powerful to their all-too-human knees.
Somewhere along the way, though, Shakespeare was canonized — for good reason, of course, as the stories are timeless. The downside, though, was a feeling that without a PhD in English one was left out in the cold, like one of the Bard’s ghosts.
Shakespeare for the Masses wrests control of the theatre from academia and returns it to the people. First of all, the shows are always free. They also are cut down to size with a running time of one hour. The troupe engages a signature silliness, too, and leaves the bloviating to, well, the bloviators.
The shows take place at the Katharine Cornell Theatre beginning at 7 p.m. on both Friday, Jan. 18 and Saturday, Jan. 19. The players are Scott Barrow, Chris Roberts, Molly Purves, Amy Sabin Barrow, Jill Macy, Xavier Powers, Leslie J. Stark, Chelsea McCarthy and Nicole Galland. The Vineyard Playhouse is producing.