It's one thing to imagine five actors – and only five actors – performing one of Shakespeare's plays. It's quite another to see it yourself. I'd heard the raves for the Actors From the London Stage during their residencies at the University of Texas over the past eight years – sterling versions of Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Measure for Measure, each played by as few folks as it takes to field a basketball team. But somehow I was always busy when the ensemble would tour through and play the B. Iden Payne Theatre on campus and the Theatre Barn at Winedale. Until last fall, when AFTLS came to town with Hamlet. I caught a performance at the Payne and was drawn again into this familiar tale by a quintet of players whose mastery of the text made the most well-worn speeches fresh and whose facility with character allowed them to ease into characters as smoothly as you or I might slip into a bathrobe. With no spectacle and no tricks, beyond those any practiced actor has at his or her disposal, these artists tell us these grand stories with clarity and immediacy. No wonder Alan Friedman, professor of English and coordinator of the residency, is so proud to host them every year and determined to keep them coming back. They return next week with another tragedy, the brief but brutal Macbeth. I expect you can imagine it, but you really need to see it. And you have only four chances.
Actors From the London Stage present Macbeth Wednesday-Friday, Oct. 3-5, 7:30pm, at the B. Iden Payne Theatre, 23rd and San Jacinto, UT campus, and Saturday, Oct. 6, 7pm, in the Theatre Barn of the Winedale Historical Center, Winedale. For tickets, call 477-6060 or visit www.texasboxoffice.com. For more information, visit www.utexas.edu/cola/depts/english/shakespeare/aftls/.
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