The Lion in Winter: Plays for Non-Profits takes the stage in Odell

‘Always put your faith in vices’

Men and women of the court: Carpenter, left, McGrew, Lynne, Paul Bowen as King Henry II, Emma Spaulding as King Philip, Max Meckoll as Prince John, and Lundby as Geoffrey.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
Men and women of the court: Carpenter, left, McGrew, Lynne, Paul Bowen as King Henry II, Emma Spaulding as King Philip, Max Meckoll as Prince John, and Lundby as Geoffrey.

Who’s Who, Where’s Where

A short glossary of people and places mentioned in the play:

Aquitaine — an agriculturally rich region west of Bordeaux in southwest France

Chinon — Henry II’s chateau in Anjou, medieval France, where the action takes place

Heloise and Abelard — 12th century lovers (mentioned in Act 1, Scene 5), they were student and teacher who were intellectually and emotionally entwined

Medea – From Greek mythology, wife of Jason, and a sorceress

Praxiteles — iconic Greek sculptor from the fourth century

Rosamund — “Rose of the World,” Henry’s former lover

Thomas Becket — Cleric and political rival of King Henry II, who had Becket murdered

Vexin — a strategically important region on the Loire River just east of Paris

Young Henry — Henry and Eleanor’s first heir, who earlier died

In the 12th century, who needed live streaming, when you had live scheming?

In the play “The Lion in Winter,” opening next week, writer James Goldman weaves a funny, tragic, enthralling version of the tests of wit and wiles at the royal Plantagenet Christmas Court, year 1183.

The Plays for Non-Profits (PFNP) production benefits The Next Door Inc. and Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital Foundation.

“Lion in Winter” was made into a 1968 film starring Peter O’Toole and Katherine Hepburn (and for television in 2003 with Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close). In the script, “Who will be the next king of England?” is the main question, but far from the only one.

“My position is — well, frankly, Philip, it’s a tangle,” Henry II aptly tells the rival ruler King Philip of France.

The twists and turns come down to King Henry II and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine (Paul Bowen and Eden McGrew) and their sons: Richard, Geoffrey and John (Jason Carpenter, Erik Lundby and Max Meckoll). Also caught up in the intrigue are Henry’s adoptive daughter (and lover) Alais (Tay Camille Lynne) and Philip Capet, King of France (Emma Spaulding).

Lands, lives and loss are all literally within the realm, as allegiances, plots, threats, and negotiations spin and churn continually.

“These particular family members stand ready and waiting with actual armies to take each other out if the division of the kingdom goes the wrong way,” said director Lynda Dallman.

What — and who — is promised to whom? How will those vows be breached? How rapidly will alliances change?

“Modern day audience members may have experienced a prickly family gathering or two, but watching this medieval royal family plot and scheme will bring new meaning to the term ‘power struggle.’

“As we studied the script for ‘The Lion in Winter,’ cast members found the contentious relationships between the characters credible enough, given their histories during the Middle Ages,” Dallman said. “However, what most excited them was the playwright’s impressive use of language to reveal the particular motivations of family members and rival monarchs.”


RARE comforting moment in the court, with Queen Eleanor (Eden McGrew) and Alais (Tay Camille Lynne).


A wry expression comes to Prince Geoffrey’s face (Erik Lundby) as he and brother Richard the Lionheart (Jason Carpenter) listen.

All players get their turns at rapier-sharp repartee, but the core scenes belong to the commanding Henry II and the conniving Eleanor. For example:

Eleanor: “Richard is the next king, not your John. I know you, Henry. I know every twist and bend you’ve got and I’ll be waiting around each corner for you.”

Henry: “Do you really care who’s king?”

Eleanor: “I care because you care so much.”

Henry: “I might surprise you, Eleanor. I’ve fought and bargained all these years as if the only thing I’ve lived for was what happened after I was dead.”

Goldman’s script veers remarkably close to current events when Henry says to Eleanor:

“Good God woman, face the facts.”

Her reply:

“Which ones? We’ve got so many.”

Delicious lines fall to Richard, telling his mother, “Is this an audience, a goodnight kiss with cookies or an ambush?”

And when Geoffrey reveals a ruse engineered to gain others’ trust, John tells him, “I tell you, your leg could fall off at the pelvis and I wouldn’t trust the stump to bleed.”

For Geoffrey’s part, one of his lines tells you much about the deceitful interplay: “Always put your faith in vices.”

Tickets and Times

March 23-24, March 30-31 at 7:30 p.m., and March 25 at 1:30 p.m., Wy’east Performing Arts Center, Odell

Tickets are $20 adults, $15

students and seniors, available at Waucoma Bookstore and online at

The play runs two hours, 30 minutes, including intermission, and is suitable for children 12 and older. The small cast features four relative newcomers to the local stage: Bowen, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., will be remembered for his role as Benedick in the summer 2016 Plays for Production of “Much Ado About Nothing.” Debuting in PFNP productions last year were Meckoll, a Hood River Middle school student, in “A Christmas Carol” in December, and McGrew in “A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream” in July.

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