Shakespeare is often difficult to do--and do well--in a high school setting, but Centreville High produced a wonderful rendition of "Macbeth," mastering the Elizabethan English and, for the most part, conveying the deeper meaning behind the words.

Standout performances were turned in by the weird sisters--Jennifer Jade Tamayo, Kristie Morikawa and Abby Pulsipher--who stole the show, the audience anticipating their every entrance. The physicality of the acting and the actors' costuming brought them to life.

A nod, also, to Banquo as played by Matthew Moore, whose command of the Elizabethan language was superb.

So, too, Centreville's technical stage work: the lighting fostered an eeriness befitting the moment, especially during Lady Macbeth's entrance when a chill swept through the theater as the lights came up; and the sound system--designed completely by student Nicole McCarthy--nicely complemented the mood.

The costumes--many of them rented--and the set--a large castle stretching the length of the stage--added to the enjoyment of the evening. Director Mark Rogers utilized the setting creatively, never more so than when he had the weird sisters "exit" the stage by blending into the wall and disappearing. After such a fine rendition of Shakespearean tragedy, Centreville deservedly should take a bow.

Sara Oldknow

Fairfax High School

For any high school actor, Shakespeare offers quite a challenge. Performing one of the more famous of the bard's plays well enough to please everyone is an even bigger hurdle. Centreville High School seems to have pulled it off, though, with its "Macbeth."

A tale of murder and intrigue, "Macbeth" is set in Scotland during the Dark Ages. Its tragic hero and heroine are the title character (played by Adam Wood) and Lady Macbeth (Victoria Neiman), a pair of semi-crazed nobles who, advised by witches and apparitions, kill both their friends and their enemies to ensure that the Scottish crown is theirs.

In Centreville's recent production, the grisly plot was enlivened by artistic use of lighting, choreography, stage combat and music, as well as a strong cast. Wood, in the challenging lead role, was vocally powerful and fairly expressive in his communication, giving tense drama to well-known passages such as the famous "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" speech. Other notables were Matthew Moore, who nearly stole the show as Banquo with his subtle, sensitive acting, and Kenny Hicks as the porter, who offered much-needed comic relief with his hilarious cockney accent.

One complaint: Cast members seemed not to have a great deal of chemistry or connection with one another, making some scenes appear disjointed; also, little development was shown in the lead characters from beginning to end.

The actors did, however, do a good job of keeping up the tempo, gliding smoothly through the tangles of Shakespeare's words without losing momentum.

Visually, the show was pleasing to the eye and powerful in its simplicity. The Centreville auditorium's unique stage space, which extends at its sides to partially surround the audience, was well-used; selective lighting on specific parts of the stage eliminated the need for numerous scene changes.

The uncomplicated two-level set effectively added dimension, enhancing the ethereal drama of some scenes and providing the actors with an interesting space in which to move. Bold lighting, foreboding in shades of blood-red, was often used to turn the players into dazzling silhouettes.

One particularly fascinating touch was the way in which the three witches were portrayed: as lithe, serpentine dancers who, with their elaborately choreographed incantations, added a seductive twist to their scenes.

Continuity was given to the entire play by soft, well-placed Celtic background music, which, though it occasionally conflicted with the actors' voices, set the tone for each scene and held the show smoothly together.

Savanna Lyons

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology

STUDENT THEATER REVIEW

During the 1999-2000 school year, the Weekly section will publish occasional reviews of high school theatrical performances in Northern Virginia, written by students from other schools under the guidance of professional mentors.

The reviews are part of the new High School Critics and Awards Program ("Cappies"), which aims to recognize the achievements of young performers, writers, directors, stage crew and critics. The program is co-sponsored by the Capitol Steps comedy troupe and the NVTA (formerly the Northern Virginia Theatre Alliance), a coalition of three dozen artistic production companies from throughout the metropolitan area.

Nearly two dozen high schools in Fairfax, Arlington and Alexandria are participating in the program this school year; each has designated one performance for critical review. In the spring, the program will hand out its first Cappies, the high school equivalent of a Tony Award, to honor outstanding local talent in theater, dance and music. For more information, check out the Cappies Web site: www.cappies.com.

Today student reviewers offer their views on the Shakespearean tragedy "Macbeth," staged recently at Centreville High School.

The Weekly also is publishing a list of upcoming school productions. Any area high school--not just those in the Cappies program--may submit a listing by e-mailing us at schoolplays@washpost.com.

Please include the name of the production, the school where it will be performed, the date or dates and a phone number for additional information.

CAPTION: Logan Conner, right, Mike League and others practice a climactic fight scene for Centreville High's "Macbeth" production.