Friday, May 20, 2016

Review of Promethean Theatre Ensemble's The Lion in Winter

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Lion in Winter. It was by James Goldman and it was directed by Brian Pastor. It was about this king Henry (Brian Parry) and queen Eleanor (Elaine Carlson) who are not in a happy marriage anymore. But the kingdom is going to go to someone else because the king is going to die soon. But each of the kids, Richard (Jared Dennis), Geoffrey (Nick Lake), and John (Tom Murphy), have been a disappointment to the parents and haven't been very nice to their parents either. So that makes them not very appealing for the throne. There is a King who is staying for the holidays, Philip of France (Evan Johnson); it is a big royal family Christmas get-together. You can tell from the beginning that it is not going to turn out amazing; the king isn't just happy to have a wife at the time, he needs a mistress too, Alais (Heather Smith). And two of his sons and his wife have all held rebellions against him and his rules, so that means that none of them have a great relationship with their dad. John is the one who doesn't rebel against him (at least not until the play is over). I thought that this was a very funny show. Given that the main theme is betrayal and bad family relationships, I didn't think it would be. I really liked this show because it was funny and emotional and a lot of it was so unexpected.

I really liked all the witty lines that were in this show. A lot of the wit comes from the despair or confusion or hatred that the characters are feeling. They use wit to overpower people and to get over or hide their own sadness. I think Eleanor hides her fear during some of her lines, like when Henry says the day my sons work together will be the day pigs fly. And she, of course, replies with a sassy remark: "There'll be pork in the treetops come morning." And when Henry and Eleanor are having their daily friendly argument, there's a very funny line where Henry says that she'll let her bridge down for anybody and she says "there's not much traffic anymore." I think that was a very clever way to say, "Well, I don't get much attention anymore" and make him feel bad about what he did. Even though she is the same age, even younger, she doesn't get even half as much traffic as Henry. I think that is because old rich men are more appealing to young women than old rich ladies are to young men. I think it is terrible that the king gets as many women as he wants but the queen is locked away in a castle and it is supposed to be totally ok.

There is a recurring theme of betrayal in this show. Everybody betrays somebody in the course of the play, and most of the time more than one. The King of France betrays 4 people and all in the same scene! Alais betrays the Queen sometimes but sometimes she loves her and thinks of her as a mother. The sons betray each other at least once and all of them betray their father and then they betray their mother. And then they betray the King of France. I think the weird thing is that the parents do really love their kids; they are just not very good at showing it. The sons want the crown and they want all the power that they can get. When Richard breaks down with his mom, it made me think that maybe he did actually love her. And John loves his dad, but maybe only because his dad is the only one who loves him. It is kind of depressing to have everyone in the same family betraying each other when you feel like they should love each other. But there is such a heck of a load of betrayal that it becomes funny.

I found it very hard to see most of the male characters in this show as good people. You found the things that they did funny, but you didn't sympathize with them whatsoever. Geoffrey is a little bit different. Even though he does some bad stuff and he's plotting all the time, he is the underdog and that makes him a little more likable and understandable. He thinks he is so smart that nobody can stop him, but that isn't fully true in the end. Because the women were so mistreated and one of them didn't even really know what she was supposed to be doing, I found them more sympathetic. Eleanor is so clever and sassy, but mistreated, that you want to see her get justice. I found it weird that I only really sympathized with a few people, because usually there are only one or two villains in a play. This play was full of people who could be villains in other plays. I think that was super awesome and I really liked that because I usually enjoy watching villains more than heroes anyway, even if I don't like what they do.

People who would like this show are people who like loads of betrayal, sassy queens, and pork in the treetops. I think people should go see this show. I thought it was very funny and very clever. It was a great way to experience my first encounter with The Lion in Winter.

Photos: Tom McGrath

No comments: