The fictionalized lives of royalty—from Greek tragedy through to The King’s Speech—seem to provide a never-ending source of fascination for audiences. James Goldman’s play The Lion in Winter—presented by Weber State University’s Department of Performing Arts—ventures into this rarified world while also exploring much more universal ideas of how complex family dynamics can erupt into violence.
In 1183, Eleanor of Aquitaine—wife of King Henry II of England—had been a prisoner of the king for a decade, occasionally released to visit him at his whim. One of those visits take place during Christmas, but the family gathering is hardly a merry one. The royal couple’s sons are also part of the gathering, as is the French princess Alais, who has been betrothed for years to Henry’s eldest surviving son and heir, Richard (“the Lionheart”) but is currently Henry’s mistress. And you thought your holiday dinners were awkward.