Trever Nunn’s The Lion in Winter is a fast paced, dramatic, intriguing and amusing tale brought to life masterfully by Joanna Lumley and Robert Lindsey.
In this medieval drama Lumley plays Queen Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine who has been imprisoned in Salisbury Tower, Windsor Castle by her husband King Henry ll, played by Robert Lindsay.
We meet this dysfunctional family at Christmas, when Queen Eleanor is allowed out of her captivity. Henry imprisoned her as punishment for supporting their son Richard the Lion Heart.
This play is set in 1183 and is steeped in history but remains a piece of fiction.
We are helped with the transportation back in time by the wonderful set and costumes by Stephen Brimson Lewis.
It’s a totally gripping roller-coaster of bribery, deceit and the extreme measures people will go to get what they want, even within their family, particularly between husband and wife.
Joanna Lumley is captivating as Queen Eleanor, fiercely intelligent, ruthless and quick witted, she has a heart of stone towards her sons, but her heart melts always towards her husband despite their differences.
Robert Lindsey captures the confidence and strength of King Henry ll, ‘the greatest and most illustrious ruler of the world’, we really believe he is a King and despite his scheming tactics, he is immensely likeable.
The princess are perfectly cast to show how different these brothers were, my favourite being Price John played by Joseph Drake, his eagerness to be thought of as King material despite being physically the weakest is very entertaining. History tells us that Prince John would in fact realise his dream of being King after succeeding Richard to the throne.
Sonya Cassidy is beautiful as Princess Alais, Henry’s mistress, totally in love with Henry. She loses her innocence throughout the play however and reveals her own ruthless streak.
This is a thoroughly fascinating and enjoyable insight into a remarkable family and their empire.
Showing From: Saturday, 5th November 2011
Showing Until: Saturday, 28th January 2012
Matinees: Thursday and Saturday 2.30pm
Evenings: Monday to Saturday 7.30pm
Theatre Royal Haymarket
12th November 2011