A Lion in Winter

A Lion in Winter

A Lion in Winter

Central Florida Community Arts

Old Guys always have the power, and young men are always trying to take it. Henry the Second may be an English King, but he holds vast swaths of France. He locked his wife Eleanor (Olson) in a castle and left her to chase other wars and other women. His sons have “Come of Age” and it’s time to pass the scepter, a task he distinctly does NOT want to do. He calls them in, and we meet the John (Jake Teixeira) the tough guy Richard (Chris Fahmie) and the sneaky Geoffrey (Landon St. Gordon). They must negotiate with young but wily Phillip (Cole Nesmith), and we spend the next hour in a Machiavellian game of chess that leave no one happy and most of the cast doomed.

You can read Shakespeare for the after story, this is the prequel for his history plays. I will point out this Richard becomes Richard the Lion Hearted who later achieves a world record for needing the world’s most expensive ransom later in his career. For some reason I found this production’s plot line easier to follow than the last time I saw this show, and I give this production high marks for keeping the set simple and the motivations simpler. Lowe’s Richard knows how to get attention, and he keeps changing his mind on stage to the consternation of everyone. Ms. Olson seems resigned to her fate and her husband’s infidelities, and despite her owning a good chunk of Southern France this asset does her little good. The three sons are all a joy to watch: John seem too immature to run a hot dog stand, but he stands up for himself. Geoffrey is an operator who may have inspired Machiavelli his “The Prince,” and Fahmie’s Richard looked as brutal and easily offended as a biker gang leader. He wants to kill everyone on stage and then start on the first row of the audience. Good thing I had a seat in the back. Then there’s Mr. Nesmith as the young French Monarch, he ties the story together and sets up a brilliant scene where everyone is hiding in the arrases only to reveal themselves one at a time.

The story is set around Christmas time, and it helps a bit to have some history of the era. England and France had a very fluid boarder with the English Channel just a mere inconvenience. Many English kinds spent most of their time in France am and few “French” men considered themselves French, but rather Occitan, Norman, or Picard. But the story stands up a cautionary tale of transferring control when you can do it effectively, staying to true to a straying spouse and putting county and legacy above all else.



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