When it comes to acting, Shakespeare separates the men from the boys. Or to put it in more politically correct terms, the works of Shakespeare quickly make apparent the differences between the talented actor who has studied and mastered his or her craft and the rank amateur.
Fortunately for the great majority of actors of the newly formed Round Table Theatre Co. & Academy, the Bard’s aims are well and clearly represented in “Macbeth,” now staging at LTV Studios in Wainscott. This production, directed by Tristan Vaughan and starring Jeff Keogh in the title role, is quite strong, well acted and a joy to watch.
Mr. Keogh is commanding and charismatic. He’s believable in all moments—from the heroic to the mad—and was, alone, worth the price of admission for the nearly sold-out crowd on Saturday night.
But he had help, and lots of it, from the rest of the cast. In particular, Morgan Vaughan shone as the bloodthirsty and power hungry Lady Macbeth, Kenny Kilfara was transcendent as the ghostly Banquo and Dan Stearns was powerful and heroic as Macduff. And let us not forget Josh Gladstone, who milked the comic relief to the absolute hilt in the role of the drunken Porter, and Dianne B., who might not have been on the stage since college, but who, regardless, hit it out of the ballpark as the First Witch.
I don’t want to leave anybody out but “Macbeth” has a lot of ground to cover and there are other important elements that need mentioning here, such as the set, the visuals, the costumes and the seating. That said, the acting was overall quite good and certainly crowd pleasing. The cast, as a whole, did a wonderful job.
The naked stage, bare save a few stones and candlelight for most of the play, was the perfect set for this dark and powerful tragedy. Acting on a spare stage can be challenging for the novice, but the skilled actors in this production were more than up to the task. The performances proved that extra dressing would have been superfluous. Well done to set designer Brian Leaver.
Another smart choice was the use of a giant screen as the backdrop upon which illustrations of woods and the exteriors and interiors of the king’s castle were projected in order to set the scene. The most effective use of that screen came when the decision was made to leave it blank during a few of Macbeth’s key soliloqies, casting a large and ponderous shadow of the doomed Thane. Smart.
The choice to leave the stage nearly in the round—three sides were open—was also quite brilliant. I especially liked the multitude of options from which actors were able to enter and exit, straight through the audience in many cases. The intimacy and interaction proved quite successful.
The costumes, though spare kilts and what looked to be thermal underwear for the Scottish warriors, contained a little extra flair when it came to the ladies. Costume designer Yuka Silvera particularly outdid herself, especially with the mesh headpieces for the Three Witches. Well done.
There’s something else that needs to be mentioned about this production and that’s the seating. It might sound like a trifle but it’s really not when it comes to the audience’s enjoyment and ability to see the stage.
Hearty thanks to whomever decided to add that back row of taller chairs. It’s frequently very difficult to watch all the action when the chairs are all lined up on a flat floor, which is the case for almost all the community productions out here, but this easy fix to create graduated seating ensured that there were no bad seats in the house. Thank you!
Bottom line: This freshman endeavor from Round Table was polished, professional and thoroughly enjoyable on many levels. I can’t wait to see the next one.
“Macbeth” will stage on Friday, January 18, and Saturday, January 19, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, January 20, at 2 p.m. at LTV Studios in Wainscott. Tickets are $25, general admission, or $15 for seniors and students. For reservations and information, visit ltveh.org or roundtabletheatrecompany.org.