Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Lion in Winter"

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"The Lion in Winter"

by James Goldman
Directed by Richard Girardi

Fight Master Ted Eaton
Design and Construction by Marc Harpin
Stage Manager Vic Waters

CAST

King Henry Plantagenet.................Rick Winterson
Princess Alais Capet.......................Sarah Isenberg
John...............................................Forrest Walker
Geoffrey........................................Gregory Stuart
Richard Lionheart................................Dan Sawka
Eleanor of Acquitaine........................Julie Dapper
King Philp Capet...............................Marc Harpin

The real strength of Ubiquity Stage's new production, "The Lion in Winter", lies in James Goldman's script. He portrays a squabbling dysfunctional family power-tripping each other over Christmas holidays. Theirs is the kind of sibling warfare in which a calm laying out of anyone's honest aims and emotions is looked upon as the ultimate hypocrisy --- and dirty pool. But the self-contained, bloody patriarch's name here isn't Soprano, or Corleoni, but Plantaganet. It is 1138 and he his Henry, King of England and half of France, and his estranged wife is Eleanor of Aquitaine. La plus change.....

Henry, in the persona of Rick Winterson, is tall, upright, smiling, and three steps ahead of everyone he speaks to. He has decided to hand on his crown, at what he knows to be his coming death, to his youngest son John (Forrest Walker) while Queen Eleanor would prefer the eldest, Dan Sawka's Richard. Gregory Stuart's Geoffrey is the man in the middle, willing to be the power behind either thrown --- if he can't sit on it himself. The young king of France (Marc Harpin) drops in to talk, king-to-roi, about certain unclear borders, and his sister Alais (Sarah Isenberg) is Henry's beloved mistress --- perhaps queen, should he wish to breed a new crop of potential heirs --- and a pawn in this multi-playered chessmatch.

But the province of Aquitaine is at the center of their jigsaw-squabbles, and that makes Julie Dapper's Queen Eleanor a power player whose every word or nod has meaning. Henry, living in France, had her mewed up in Sarum Castle near Stonehenge, and has only let her out for the Xmas vacs. She is the enigmatic opposite of Winterson's upfront smiler, but their grudging, loving, uncompromising family flap is toe-to-toe, intense and historic, and bubbling over with irony.

This is a shoestring production, but even on an almost bare stage the script sings. Director Rich Girardi and his cast could dig for months into such meaty scenes and characters --- and no doubt will through the production --- but the basics are there, and they're enough.

Love,
===Anon.


"The Lion in Winter" (till 31 March)
UBIQUITY STAGE
Tower Auditorium, Mass College of Art, 621 Huntington Avenue, BOSTON
1(617)470-5329


THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |