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The Lion in WInter

Juan Cancio | Thursday, April 4, 2013



Scene Writer

As I was waiting for “The Lion in Winter” to start, I couldn’t help but notice how welcoming the Washington Hall Lab Theatre felt. The Lab Theatre is not very big, but it offers a stage that promises to deliver a very intimate theatrical experience. The stage lights darken and leave me in complete darkness as I am suddenly transported to the King of England’s quarters where he is speaking with his beautiful mistress about the current troubles that his kingdom faces. 

During their conversation the characters happen to provide the audience with a line that ultimately sets the stage for the rest of this wonderful play. Alais, the King’s mistress, asks the King if she should ever trust a word of what he says; The King coolly responds “Always!…even when I lie.”

The story takes place in 1183 inside King Henry II’s castle as he and his family reunite for Christmas. The King has apparently ended up in the arms of his son’s betrothed wife, but he is more consumed by questions about the future of his vast kingdom. The King is ready to do everything in his power to keep his empire from splitting; unfortunately for him, he has three sons and only one throne to pass on. His estranged wife also shows great interest in deciding who is to succeed the King because she sees a chance to finally avenge her betrayal. What better way to avenge herself than to ensure the King’s preferred son does not ascend to the throne? 

The play presents the inner workings of a royal family who is at odds with one another, and shows us how seemingly normal their struggles can be. The royal family is host to sibling rivalries and favoritism just like any other, with the one very important difference being that the future of an empire hangs in the balance. This is a story of deceit and how each member of this family plots his or her individual success with little to no regard for anyone who stands in their way. This drama is paralleled by cunning word play that provides the audience with comic relief throughout the play, but also humanizes these characters even further. The petty jibes between a jealous queen and her lustful king are shown on full display, along with how a prince brags to his brothers about how he is the favorite and therefore the only logical option for the next king. 

I had the opportunity to meet with the director of “The Lion in Winter” and saw how anxious she is to show off her work to the rest of the student community. Lauren Palomino is a Senior majoring in Political Science and she could not help but radiate excitement as she told me about her favorite play. She admitted to me that this was a bitter sweet opportunity because although she was finally getting a chance to direct her favorite play, it would also be the last time she would have the pleasure of directing here at ND. She has done a great job with this interesting political drama, and I am sure any who attend the play will leave the theatre satisfied after an evening of great entertainment. 

This play offers the audience an entertaining story of a fight for the line of succession and power, which turns brothers into enemies and husband and wife into competing puppeteers. It will be on tonight at 7:30 p.m. and tomorrow afternoon at 4:30 p.m. in the Washington Hall Lab Theatre.  

Contact Juan Cancio at                  [email protected]