Dysfunctional families, scandalous secrets and delicious drama seem to be the norm in Tallahassee Little Theatre’s production of “The Lion in Winter.”
Written by playwright James Goldman and directed by Charles Olsen, the show boasts a brilliant cast, witty dialogue, beautiful costumes and clever sets–all of the right ingredients to create a formidable play and demonstrate what it is.
“The Lion in Winter” revolves around Henry II, the king of England. Set during the Christmas of 1183 at Henry’s castle, the king is rather annoyed at the arrival of his wife, Eleanor, a woman who is as cunning as she is beautiful.
She’s also determined to knock him off his throne. To complicate things there are her three adult sons, John, Geoffrey and Richard, who all seem to engage in flights of fancy when it comes to being England’s supreme ruler.
It is no secret that misery loves company. To that end, the backbiting royal family is joined by Alais Capet, Henry’s gorgeous mistress, and her brother, the young Philip Capet of France.
With seven characters, all with hidden agendas, webs are woven, lines are crossed and sides are drawn. Naturally, this makes for fascinating entertainment, which the cast is skilled at presenting.
As Henry, Shawn McCauley does quite a fine job in showcasing his growing frustration with his wife and sons. Assuming the roles of his bickering offspring are Dakota Miller, Nathan Williamson and Bob Myers.
All three are wonderful in their assigned roles, especially Miller, whose character is absolutely convinced that he is his father’s favorite–such a pity that he is not.
Ashley Kontos spices her role as Alais while Colin Wulff exudes confidence as Philip. His character offers quite a twist toward the end of the first act–one that involves Richard in a way some audience members may not anticipate.
However, out of the remarkable confluence of characters, the one that manages to steal nearly every scene she is in is the amazing Dorothea Syleos as Eleanor. The actress knows how to deliver a line and for that matter, an icy stare that could freeze rainwater.
It is clear from her performance that Eleanor is out for revenge.
Nominated for two Tony Awards, the play premiered in New York in 1966 and ran for 92 performances before being revived in 1999. Tallahassee Little Theatre’s production won’t quite reach that number, but those who enjoy theatre have several chances to catch five remaining performances.
Kings and queens may be a thing of the past, but good theatre is timeless.
Visit tallahasseelittletheatre.org or call 850-224-8474 for ticket prices.