Short Stuff Shakespeare, Big Fun

Cowardly braggarts, stuffy old men, soldiers in funny hats speaking nonsense, devious ingenues, elegant aristocrats, Marvin Gaye; just another night down at Cumberland Farms in Vineyard Haven you say?

Make that the Pit Stop, by way of William Shakespeare, that is.

The folks at Shakespeare for the Masses are on the run; the Vineyard Playhouse is under construction, but they have found a new home for their particular brand of reproducing works of the legendary bard. This weekend’s production is All’s Well that Ends Well, one of the masters “problem” plays in that it cannot be neatly categorized as a comedy or a tragedy.

Why this is considered a problem will have to be taken up with the academics.

But if history be our guide, the crew at the masses will most likely err on the side of comedy. Their tradition is to trim Shakespeare’s work down to the bare essentials, running time is usually under an hour, and then throw in some extra essentials. For this performance they promise more “dumbshows” than any previous Shakespeare adaptation in known history.

For those new to theatre-speak, a dumbshow is a moment of pantomime, the drama presented without words.

This is not to say the show is a silent one, although with the recent success of the Academy Award winning film, The Artist, shouldn’t we all be moving toward mime?

The cast is led by Molly Purves, a young woman who oddly enough usually plays generals and kings. This weekend she goes ingenue, suffering from unrequited love for Rob Myers (she’s got Jellybone Rivers fever) while he suffers from the common malady of charasmatic clueless dude who chooses battle over babe.

The rest of the cast includes Jamie Alley, Xavier Powers, Leslie J. Stark, Jihan Ponti, Anna Yukevich, Chelsea McCarthy and Nicki Galland. Adaptation credits go to Nicki and Chelsea.

Performances are tonight, March 9, and tomorrow, March 10, both shows beginning at 7 p.m. And in keeping with tradition, Shakespeare for the Masses performs free, yes free, so intent are they on their mission to spread the word of Shakespeare. Not that they will turn away donations.

The Pit Stop is located on Dukes County avenue in Oak Bluffs, across from Tony’s Market.