note: entire contents copyright 2002 by Beverly Creasey
Who knew medieval politics could be such fun. The Hovey Players larger than life production of "The Lion in Winter" will keep your heart pumping right to its treacherous conclusion. James Goldman's star vehicle (yes, Jerry Robbins will make you forget the film) careens from scene to scene with more surprising twists and turns than a Nascar obstacle course. Director Ronni Marshak's high energy production (with the charismatic Robbins driving it like Charles Laughton on speed) is a delight from start to finish.
John MacKenzie's magnificent stone castle glows in orange torch light, with Michelle Boll's spectacular trompe-l'oeil setting for a real window. Genevieve McCulloch's period costumes are a treat to the eye as well, with nubby fabrics to keep their wearers warm even in a drafty dungeon.
Pauline Wright is a scheming Eleanor of Acquitaine, her eyes flashing with glee as she confounds King Henry at every turn. Justin Budinoff is a standout as the "extra" son who (alas) will never be king, and Matthew Brettschneider makes the petulant John so charming you wish Goldman had continues the saga. Each actor makes Marshak's leonine production a pleasure, from Ian Dowell's scowling Richard to Elizabeth Wightman's pouting Alais to Bob Mussett's evil King Philip.
As King Henry quips "Nothing in life has any business being perfect" ..... but the Hovey's "Lion" comes close