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New Era - The Lion in Winter

26th November to 6th December 2008.

Here is the NWN review.

And the rest is history...

New Era Players: The Lion in Winter, at New Era Theatre, Wash Common, from Wednesday, November 26 to Saturday, December 6

Once again, New Era Players have come up trumps with their latest play The Lion in Winter. This historical drama is set in Christmas 1183, but you certainly would not welcome these characters as your festive guests.

James Goldman's play is perhaps best known for the 1968 film version starring Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn. The plot is as complex and intriguing as a television soap, with political scheming, extramarital affairs, a power struggle for the crown, an impending war and a homosexual liaison.

Keith Keer gives a commanding performance as Henry II, with a strong stage presence and voice to match. He has gathered his family together to announce which of his three sons will become his successor. He summons his imprisoned Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, beautifully played by Sue Keer, who perfectly captures Eleanor's scheming and ferocity, together with her feeling of loneliness and personal despair.

Each of the sons has a flaw which makes the decision difficult. Mark Carveth is the strong and powerful Richard the Lionheart, the Queen's favoured choice, but he has had a homosexual liaison with the young King Philip of France (Joe Prentice) who also has his eyes on the English throne.

His sister, the beautiful but innocent Princess Alais - a fresh performance by Jane Robinson - is the king's mistress and he wants his marriage annulled in order to marry her. Also in contention is the youngest son, the wimpish spoiled teenager John, nicely realised by Neil Dewdney, and Geoffrey, the scheming middle son (Stephen Bennett) who is also desperate for the crown.

The stakes are high, and Eleanor contrives and connives with her sons to kill Henry, and so the plot thickens as everyone engages in their own deception and treachery to stake their claim. The end, of course, is history.

Designed and directed with flair by David Zeke with costumes by Lisa Harrington and Janet Bennett and effective lighting by John Cordg this was a highly enjoyable, well acted show.