Round Table (59E59)
Named Times Square Chronicles' Best of 2019
On LARPING & Theater: Feature in TDF
"Bittersweet romance is interwoven with a retelling of the King Arthur legend, which begins to bleed into their courtship. 'LARPing is this play's metonym for storytelling,' says Vaynberg. 'We tell stories precisely because we want to negotiate our relationship with fate.'"
“The playwright Liba Vaynberg can fairly be described as a mistress of the unexpected. […] Round Table artfully plays its reality-versus-fantasy games, ricocheting between Zach and Laura's blossoming romance and amusingly bombastic Arthurian melodrama, while working up real suspense as one waits for the truth about Zach to come out. It's hard to overestimate the high-wire act that Vaynberg has assigned herself--combining witty, stylish romantic sparring with literary satire and a tragic development that, in the wrong hands, could have become a shameless bid for tears. But Vaynberg and her director, Geordie Broadwater, handle the material with a naturally light touch, overstating nothing and allowing these wayward lovers to win us over. […] heartful and rueful, written and performed with surprising tact and restraint. […] expertly stylized performances and cunningly structured script. A gratifyingly touching light entertainment, Round Table should serve as a gilt-edged calling card for some very talented young artists.”
-David Barbour, Lighting & Sound America
“Clever and captivating. Round Table, written by Liba Vaynberg and directed by Geordie Broadwater is a one of a kind show. This modern romantic comedy [...] Starring a talented five person cast, the show cleverly melds elements from King Arthur legends with a story about people and their relationships. Vaynberg's tale is humorous, touching, and very honest [...] a unique and distinctive play that our readers will enjoy seeing.”
-Marina Kennedy, BroadwayWorld
"The legend of King Arthur has inspired a number of adaptations in every medium. And why wouldn’t it? It’s a tale of bravery, magic, loyalty, romance, and heartbreak. In Round Table, performing at the 59E59 Theaters, the legend is cleverly used in this new contemporary play written by Liba Vaynberg. [...] the great story, smooth and intimate production, Round Table is a clever, thoughtful, and heart-wrenching play to watch."
"In her own unique take on this tradition, Liba Vaynberg has found a clever way to invoke all things Arthurian in her delightfully funny play Round Table. In addition to writing Round Table, Vaynberg appears in the play. Rather than write herself some grandstanding diva star turn, she has the confidence to play Laura, giving an understated, sensitive performance as a slightly nerdy woman in a relationship with a slightly nerdier guy. As the interlocutor between the audience and stage Vaynberg is thoughtful and translucent. She also has great comic timing. [...] Round Table is terrific. Liba Vaynberg boasts an impressive gift with language, structure and character. Brandishing whimsy and emotional gravitas with equal vigor, she deftly manages the confluence of fluid worlds to draft a narrative that coheres with near seamless effect."
-Front Row Center
“It doesn't really matter which King Arthur you know, as you don't need to be well-versed in his mythology to follow this play. It's not so much about the folklore but the way people relate to it and why. […] Vaynberg's dialogue is funny and engaging.”
"The characters are drawn with compelling and realistic depth; and each gets at least a short monologue, some of which feature beautifully evocative writing—Laura's final monologue and her description of the process by which she imagines coming to write her own, new myth are stand-outs; and Lena's description of the role of schlocky novels in her struggles for sleep will ring painfully and recognizably true for some. The performances, as mentioned, are fantastic by all concerned, no matter on which of the three planes of diegetic reality they occur [...] Round Table is by turns hilarious, poetic, psychologically acute, and poignant without being sentimental. Should you be searching for superb theater, then your quest ends here."
-Thinking Theater NYC
"We really can’t know for sure who other people truly are. Indeed, we really can’t even know who we ourselves truly are. Or at least that’s the main message I took away from Round Table by Liba Vaynberg, the intricately structured thought-provoking play currently premiering at 59E59 Theaters on East 59th Street in midtown Manhattan. [...] The cast of five is absolutely terrific in both their real life 21st Century parts and in their legendary Arthurian roles. But my greatest praise is reserved for Liba Vaynberg who not only wrote the play but starred in it brilliantly as Laura, the Druid Laurel, and Queen Guinevere. By writing the play and then starring in it herself she provided the perfect meta-example of what LARP, self-identification, and the fine line between fantasy and reality are all about."
-A Seat On The Aisle
“Vaynberg is a promising playwright [...] Vaynberg’s depiction of Zach and Laura as two well-educated writers trying to find their way with each other, even as one of them is keeping a serious secret, is touching. She even reveals a poetic streak in the occasional monologues she gives the characters. If Vaynberg is actually playing a variation on herself, she’s certainly good at it, especially in a LARP section where she’s attempting to keep up with characters already sufficiently skilled at live-action role-playing. There’s a good joke here, too, since acting itself is no more nor less than live-action role-playing."
-David Finkle, New York Stage Review
The Russian & The Jew, co-written with Emily Louise Perkins (The Tank)
On co-writing: Feature in the Brooklyn Rail.
"...the story of two women struggling for self-determination in the 1960s in Belarus, the Soviet Union, against the backdrop of a quasi-fascist Communism [...] a deeply human fable of a time and place very foreign to our contemporary New York lives. But amid lofty aspirations for equality under Communism, sexism and anti-Semitism bleed through the well-meaning veneer in ways that might feel oddly familiar, here and now."
On dramaturgy: Feature in The Jewish Week.
"With inventive storytelling, The Russian and The Jew succeeds in being an intimate, magical, festive tale impeccably secure in its own 1960s period while linking itself to the social and political present. [...] History forgotten means history not learned, and the repetition of events is inevitable without growth. How then to make history memorable so that current generations do not repeat the same mistakes? One answer is to make history felt, to drive it deeper than the brain, and place it indelibly in the heart. And the best way to do this is with a story. That’s where Emily Louise Perkins and Liba Vaynberg’s magical new play The Russian and The Jew lives, as a New Year’s story. [...] It is at once both foreign and strangely familiar. This is all played alongside the narrative of the Frog Princess, a Russian folk tale Alexei's wife Lena (Liba Vaynberg), an established doctor, tells her son. Through Lena’s eyes we witness the complexities that arise out of the roles we play in order to survive, as chosen family clashes with the tribes into which we are born. [...] Maximum trust is given to the ensemble, who expertly juggle multiple characters and dialects with ease."
-Theater Is Easy
"The brainchild of actor/writers Emily Louise Perkins and Liba Vaynberg, this play is filled with all the romance, plot twists, and personal conflict that make up any great contemporary drama. Rotating back and forth between the late 1960s and occasionally 1992 after the collapse of the USSR, this play may be a period piece, but the themes that it deals with – from misogyny to anti-Semitic bigotry – are ones that are still very much relevant today, and thus is bound to be a very compelling drama that audiences for their 20s to their 80s are bound to be drawn into and appreciate. With the help of a very talented ensemble of actors, these characters and their individual story lines are almost impossible to take your eyes off of."
-On Stage Blog
Contrition: A Long Voicemail (Streaming)
"A voicemail intercut with nonlinear scenes, telling the story of a relationship from beginning to end, the voicemail acting as a sort of epilogue that is slowly revealed as the play goes on. The monologue itself is both written and delivered beautifully. [...] The philosophical conversations had between the two characters were very beautiful and reminded me of the type of conversations we’ve all been having during this time. Questions of existence and faith. Do we exist in the way that we think we do? All told among the sounds of a lake not unlike the one I was seated beside. It made the whole thing much more personal. Real. Like you were witnessing the ghosts of a conversation long gone."