The Lion in Winter
By James Goldman
Presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC.
Directed by Krista Jackson
January 10 to 28, 2017
It’s Christmas, 1183. In the holiday spirit, Henry II, King of England, has released his scheming wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, from imprisonment and named his son, John, as heir. But Eleanor has different ideas for succession, and Henry’s infidelities and a decade in prison have not made her feel particularly cooperative. Before House of Cards and Game of Thrones, there was The Lion in Winter: a witty and modern take on what may have gone on behind 800-year-old doors. Directed by Krista Jackson.
- Joe Belanger, The London Free Press
Featured Video — The Lion in Winter: Roaring Praise From Audiences
Frankly, Mother, your position on the board is poorest. If you tattled, there would be a rash of executions and you don’t want that. No, you don’t want to lose a one of us: not even me.
In preparation to direct The Lion in Winter, I asked my husband to teach me chess. Here’s what I learned: you always have to make a move and every move you make that doesn’t strengthen your position, weakens it. Moves you make set in motion countermoves. There’s a ruthlessness to it; take someone out before they take you out. It’s all about trying to get the King, though the Queen is the most powerful, most mobile piece on the board. I am simplifying of course, but learning the game confirmed my suspicion that Lion is set up much like a game of chess. Every move the family makes over this Christmas in Anjou is made in pursuit of strengthening a grip on power.
What has made this play stand the test of time is the human need for love that underpins their game. Within this Royal family, Goldman reveals an all-too-familiar dysfunction, insecurity, and vulnerability, allowing us see ourselves within the walls of their medieval castle.
As I write these words, a new Royal-esque family – complete with gilded tower - has been installed and will soon preside over our American neighbours. I can’t help but think of them too and the guidance this play might offer them in a reflective moment. That politics is complicated. That perspectives can shift. That there can be strength in vulnerability. That when the love of power meets the power of love, outcomes may veer off unpredictably.
Cast and Creative Team
Sarah Afful ALAIS
Stuart Hughes HENRY II
Andre Morin JOHN
Brenda Robins ELEANOR
Ben Sanders GEOFFREY
Paolo Santalucia PHILIP
Rylan Wilkie RICHARD LIONHEART
Krista Jackson DIRECTOR
Sue LePage SET AND COSTUME DESIGNER
Louise Guinand LIGHTING DESIGNER
John Gzowski SOUND DESIGNER
Gerry Egan STAGE MANAGER
Chantal Hayman ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER
Caitlyn Albanese APPRENTICE STAGE MANAGER