King Lear for the masses
Shakespeare for the Masses concludes its first season at the Vineyard Playhouse this weekend with a staged reading of "King Lear" - the ultimate family soap-opera, by turns heartfelt and heart-breaking, tender and outrageous, touching and horrifying. For comic relief, King Lear offers the cheekiest fool in all of Shakespeare.
Co-founded by Chelsea McCarthy and Nicole Galland, Shakespeare for the Masses bills itself as the "quick, painless and free" way to enjoy Shakespeare in the off-season. The goal is to make Shakespeare-the-storyteller accessible to people who are leery of the iambic pentameter poetry of his scripts.
With an ensemble of Island actors, the shows are usually performed in under 90 minutes, but "King Lear" will be a little longer due to embellishing by swordfights, stabbings, poisonings, and other domestic disputes.
Veering from tradition slightly, this production features two guest-artists: the popular Irish actor Billy Meleady ("The Blowin' of Baile Gall," "The Tempest," "As You Like It"); and Jan O'Dell (Mrs. Tilford in "The Children's Hour").
Since last October, Shakespeare for the Masses has staged script-in-hand adaptations of half a dozen Shakespeare plays, from arguably the most famous ("Hamlet") to arguably the most obscure ("Two Gentlemen of Verona"). The series is supported by The Vineyard Playhouse under artistic director, MJ Bruder Munafo, and is sponsored in part by a grant from the Martha's Vineyard Cultural Council. Although the troupe is adjourning for the summer, they are already planning their second season, to begin next autumn.
"King Lear," adapted by Nicole Galland and Chelsea McCarthy, with Jan O'Dell, Billy Meleady, Amy Sabin, Mac Young, Liz Hartford, Christopher Kann, Jill Macy, May Oskan, Molly Purves, Chelsea McCarthy, Xavier Powers, Katharine Pilcher and Nicole Galland will be performed, free of charge with open seating on May 1 and 2 at 7 pm at The Vineyard Playhouse, in Vineyard Haven.
For more information please call The Vineyard Playhouse box office at 508-696-6300 or visit vineyardplayhouse.org.