It's an understandable pity that we seldom see The Lion In Winter on area stages. After witnessing the 2005 production at Theatre in the Park with local landmarks Ira David Wood III and Lynda Clark in the leads as Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, few indeed were the souls who thought, "I could top that."
In this joyous revival, Wood and Clark fully embody the two endlessly devious chess masters depicted in James Goldman's diverting script. Both are acutely aware they're well into the endgame of a struggle to determine which of three squabbling sons inherits a British throne that Henry has built into "the greatest power in a thousand years."
In a series of expertly played gambits, parries and feints, the leads manipulate all of the remaining pieces on the board. The most enigmatic of these was Ira David Wood IV's Geoffrey, a dark horse who might just be capable of changing his stripes. Elsewhere, we weren't always convinced by the depth of James Miller's work as the warrior brother, Richard, or if Hilary Edwards sufficiently conveyed the cunning charm of Alais. But Derek Dixon's calculating, smarmy Philip, young King of France, fit the bill, and Thomas Porter's read of spoiled brat John exasperated, as it should have.
Still, the theatrical lions at the center of this work should more than keep you on your toes.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Theatrical uprisings."