An older man and a much younger woman are in love. The man’s rightful wife is angry, but also in love. Their three children, now grown men, want their parents’ power and money more than anything else. The man loves one of his sons. The wife cares for a different one. Nobody minds the middle one much. This is the epitome of a dysfunctional family, and on top of that, they’re royalty.
Such is England’s King Henry II’s family in James Goldman’s “The Lion in Winter,” which is currently playing at the Sierra Madre Playhouse. Wait, there’s even more excitement… since it’s Christmas, the Royals have a guest, the young King of France Louis VII, son of Queen Eleanor’s ex-husband, and he has something going on, completely other than business, with the oldest Prince, Richard.
While “The Lion in Winter” is fictional, the characters and the history that informs the story are real. Going in you know that the scenes did not really happen, but they are so well done and engrossing that you leave thinking that, well, perhaps they could have!
At the Sierra Madre Playhouse, the play boasts a professional cast directed by Michael Cooper. The audience feels for the King (John Rafter Lee) having to deal with those power hungry heirs (James Weeks, Clay Bunker, Adam Burch) and even more for the Queen (Diane Hurley), so manipulative yet helpless and so obviously in pain.
“The Lion in Winter” is over two-hours long with an intermission, but is interesting and entertaining so that the time flies by while watching it. Those who love medieval plays and period costumes will enjoy it. Those seeking action should also - with sibling rivalry, adultery, sensuality, swords, and dungeons in the mix, who would not!
“The Lion in Winter” will perform at the Sierra Madre Playhouse Friday through Saturday until November 16. Tickets range $15 to $25. For reservations visit www.sierramadreplayhouse.org or call (626) 355-4318.
The Sierra Madre Playhouse is located at 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd, in Sierra Madre, CA.