Custom Made Theatre presents James Goldman’s modern tale of family intrigue in the house of King Henry II and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. Directed by Stuart Bousel.
Sibling rivalry, adultery, and dungeons make The Lion in Winter a modern-day holiday classic. Even though the queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, is the wealthiest woman in the world, she has been kept in prison since raising an army against her husband, King Henry II. Let out only for holidays, the play centers around the inner conflicts of the royal family as they fight over both a kingdom and King Henry’s paramour during the Christmas of 1183. As Eleanor says, “every family has its ups and downs,” and this royal family is no exception.
In The Lion in Winter, King Henry II throws a Christmas feast for the newly crowned King of France. Also in attendance for the holiday celebrations are Henry’s three plotting sons, each eager to take the throne, and Henry’s manipulative wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, newly released from house arrest (after raising an army against Henry). Even though they need to appear a happy family for the King of France, this doesn’t stop each Plantagenet from secretly plotting to take the others down. While the three sons backstab and squabble to take their place in history, Eleanor and Henry use their offspring as pawns against each other in a dangerous game of cat and mouse. Told in "marvelously articulate language, with humor that bristles and burns ("Los Angeles Times")”, The Lion in Winter is a play that transcends the historical genre to become a bitingly hilarious family drama.