Things on the local theater front are off to an especially gory start this fall. With Mad Horse Theater’s blood-drenched production of “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” just finishing up, we now have the Freeport Shakespeare Festival (in collaboration with Winterblue Theatre) presenting “Macbeth,” complete with skewered children and severed heads.

Shakespeare’s tough tragedy about the wages of “vaulting ambition” is barely contained within the relatively small performance space at Freeport Factory Stage. With 16 actors fleshing out the classic play, the Freeport production doesn’t feel like “a tale told by an idiot,” as the title character opines about life. As reviewed on Friday night, it feels like a very substantial and impressive effort by all concerned.

With sounds of helicopters and gunfire on the soundtrack, director Lon Church has placed the action in more recent times. Dressed mostly in black leather, the characters, however, still favor swords and daggers.

Original music written and performed by Ed Pearlman on violin and prerecorded keyboard melds Old World Celtic strains with neoclassical dissonance to accentuate the drama in crucial scenes. A repeated riff by Nine Inch Nails powers up when things get really tense.

Gary Allan Poe, a tall and physically imposing Macbeth, allowed his character’s “black and deep desires” to emerge first in word and then in deed, as the play requires. It was difficult to determine if his sometimes halting cadences were right for the part. But, it could be argued, there are a number of ways to get at the inner struggle of the conflicted Scotsman.

Julia S. Langham, as Lady Macbeth, scored early as a sexy spouse urging her husband to “be the serpent” and seize the opportunity to kill his king. In sequins and heels, she held center stage before later finding it difficult to get the blood off her hands.

As the insightful Banquo, Joshua Brassard rivaled in his assertive performance the powerful (and athletic) portrayal of Macduff by Jonathan P. Guimont.

Michael Dix Thomas, as Malcolm, and Beth Muldoon, as Ross, also deserve mention. Indeed, performances by those in secondary roles accounted for a good deal of the strength of the overall production.

Some nice choreography and lighting touches gave witches Laura Graham, Kathryn Moraros and Bess Welden a chance to provide a stylish creepiness to their prophetic scenes. Perhaps they also foresaw that this “Macbeth” would be a success.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.