Did you think that dysfunctional families were a recent phenomenon? This is clearly not the case, as you will see in the Grand Theatre’s production of The Lion in Winter. The play takes place in 1183 and depicts the in-fighting in the family of Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Henry II. Their three sons, Geoffrey, John and Richard Lionheart are all vying for the throne as Henry’s successor. The action takes place over Christmas and Henry has allowed Eleanor out of prison to celebrate the holiday with the family but also has his current flame in attendance, Princess Alais. John and Richard are supported by Henry and Eleanor respectively, and poor Geoffrey is overlooked by all as he says, “What about Geoffrey?” To complicate matters, Prince Phillip of Spain arrives to ensure the marriage of his sister, Alais, to Richard. Yes, that’s right, Alais who is coupled with Henry. Did I mention that Eleanor had raised Alais since she was a child? Dysfunctional? You bet.
I remember the 1968 movie starring Katharine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole and the recent play is just as cutting and witty. If you don’t get the chance to see a production of the play, please do check out the film. It also features the film debuts of Anthony Hopkins as Richard the Lionheart and Timothy Dalton as Prince Philip of France.
If you are in London, Ontario before January 28, 2017, try to get tickets to the play. The Grand Theatre is downtown and there is ample parking around the corner. The building looks new from the outside, but the old theatre has been retained inside. After you walk through the lobby into the theatre it is like stepping back in time.