It's Christmas 1183, and Henry II and his estranged wife Eleanor of Aquitaine are immersed in family treachery. The question of who will succeed Henry has brought the family to its knees. It doesn't help that Henry has had Eleanor locked in a tower for a decade.
Welcome to Springs Ensemble Theatre's production of James Goldman's 1966 play The Lion in Winter. Though coolly received when it opened, it garnered Rosemary Harris (Eleanor) a Tony Award, and eventually nabbed three Oscars when Goldman adapted it for film in 1968.
"What I loved about this piece was that it was written with modern language and it has those modern dynamics and status interactions," says University of Colorado at Colorado Springs professor Sarah Shaver, who's directing the play.
Shaver was drawn to the story's cutting wit, malice and menace. She says you'll see people bound by love, and feel the pain that comes when they hurt each other. Other themes explored include homosexuality, flagrant misogyny and the lingering vestiges of childhood.
Shaver has cast local favorites Mike Miller as Henry and Amy Brooks as Eleanor, leading up-and-comers such as Jessica Parnello as Henry's mistress and Shayn Megilligan as the youngest of his three sons. Accenting the atmosphere of familial scheming is an original score by group newcomer Ambrose Freeman-Toole.
As for the costumes, designer Jillmarie Peterson avoided plastics and faux leather to make garments as period-accurate as possible. But to stick with SET's modest budget, she used some decidedly contemporary resources: One leather corset is actually a recycled leather jacket found at Goodwill.