Seems greed, debt, overspending and the desire for bailouts did not begin with Ben Bernanke, George W. Bush or Barack Obama.

Shakespeare for the Masses is going obscure again — hands up who has heard of, let alone seen, Timon of Athens? (Yes, it’s a play). But wisely the object of their obscure performance is money, filthy lucre, the now-green stuff, the gold standard of gimme, gimme, gimme.

Timon is a very wealthy, generous guy in Athens who lavishes gifts and feasts on his friends, to the point of running entirely out of his own money. At which point he tries to borrow from his friends, who all turn their backs on him. (Seems Shakespeare presages Jimmy Cox’s Nobody Loves You when You’re Down and Out, too, and that was 1923!)

Timon curses Athens and moves out into the wilderness with nothing but the clothes on his back. By a perverse stroke of luck, he immediately finds a vast amount of buried treasure, and almost immediately his old sycophants show up again hoping for a handout — and he gives it to them, but he has a shockingly different attitude the second time around. Among other things, he furnishes a friend’s army with the means to attack and destroy their shared hometown, Athens.

Christopher Brophy is playing the title role — he is a Vineyard Playhouse favorite, and recently did The Santaland Diaries there, besides being a Shakespeare for the Masses star, from tragic (Macbeth in Macbeth) to comic (Malvolio in Twelfth Night).

Those who saw Measure for Measure know the audience got to vote on the ending. Seems audience participation will again be brought to Bard. We can’t tell you how the audience is involved in Timon of Athens, but it just might involve chocolate.

Timon of Athens by Shakespeare, adapted for Shakespeare for the Masses by Chelsea McCarthy and Nicole Galland, plays Jan. 28 and 29 at 7 p.m. at the Vineyard Playhouse. Free as always, with donations welcome. Running time an hour or less.