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The Lion in Winter

by James Goldman

I love me a good costume drama. Especially when that drama is more on the comedic side.. don't get me wrong.. there's plenty of betrayal, plotting, unfulfilled promises and harsh words to make even Shakespeare blush but the brilliance of Goldman's play is that it's all done with an air of wit that leaves us smiling through the pain.

Each relationship in the play is heartbreaking - each son has his own mommy and/or daddy-issue that has made him the way he is .. Mommy and Daddy have plenty of issues with each other and poor Alais is a pawn in everyone's game. Eleanor wants Richard for King but Henry wants John for King and no one wants Geoffrey for anything, despite his clever brain. Richard and Eleanor no longer get along since she was locked up away from the family and when she asks him what's wrong, he tells her 'nothing.' She responds:
It's a heavy thing, your nothing. When I write or send for you or speak or reach, your nothings come. Like stones.
For a woman who spends all her time plotting revenge on the men in her life and seems to need no affection, she reveals her true nature in moments like these. I see a woman who desperately needs the love and approval of her sons, and even more so Henry, but who has worn the mask of a cold-one for so long that no one would believe her even if she told the truth. She's hard on the outside, but it's from years of building up a defense. She even comes right out and asks them to love her - they just don't hear it.
We're the origins of war. Not history's forces nor the times nor justice nor the lack of it nor causes nor religions nor ideas nor kinds of government nor any other thing. We are the killers; we breed war. We carry it, like syphilis, inside. Dead bodies rot in field and stream because the living ones are rotten. For the love of God, can't we love one another just a little? That's how peace begins. We have so much to love each other for; we have such possibilities, my children. We could change the world.
Peace with three legitimate sons all with a claim to the throne? ... not bloody likely.

Wednesday Play-a-day: Stinky Flowers and the Bad Banana by Croft Vaughn

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