The Lion In Winter by James Goldman
17th, 18th and 19th January 2019

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Cast        Production Team
Henry II, King of England Andrew Rogers   Director Adam Rabinowitz
Alais, a French Princess Melanie Clark   Production Assistant Babs Oakley
John, the youngest son Ian Russell   Stage Manager Martin Howarth
Geoffrey, the middle son Alex Roth   Asst Stage Manager Lizzie Tucker
Richard Lionheart, the eldest son Peter Galloway   Properties Sarah Hudson
Eleanor, Henry's wife Karen Rogers   Continuity Val Jones
Phillip, King of France Freddy Parker   Wardrobe Liz Adams & Sylvia Zilesnick
      Set Design & Construction Lee Kenneth
      Lighting design Terry Tew
      Sound/Lighting Operation Sarah Biggs
      Programme & Poster Design Howard Platt
      Production Photos Howard Platt



Society : Loughton Amateur Dramatic Society
Production : The Lion In Winter
Date : January 2019
Venue : Lopping Hall
Report by : Carly Hilts and Simon Jones


We were delighted to be able to cover this absorbing version of a classic play for your usual rep, Lindsey. This was an inventively staged production with some very strong performances, and it made for a thought-provoking and enjoyable evening. We’d also like to congratulate the cast for their clear and confident diction in what is a very wordy play – we didn’t miss a single line.


Henry II (Andrew Rogers): ‘I’ve snapped and plotted all my life’ – Andrew gave a rounded and compelling performance as the scheming, embattled king. He had a great line in bellowing bluster but also provided interesting insights behind the bluff façade. We also enjoyed the well-thought-out physicality of his characterisation – his stance was suitably regal, undercut by his casual way of sitting with one leg thrown over the arm of his throne – a believable and varied character. The Taylor-and-Burtoneque banter with Karen Rogers’ Eleanor was also very entertaining – we weren’t surprised to learn that they are married in real life as well as on stage, there was so much mutual understanding and trust in their performances.

Alais (Melanie Clark): This French princess was not as passively pliant and gentle as she initially seemed. Melanie furnished Alais with plenty of petulant energy in a convincingly youthful performance, but she also showed her dramatic range in imbuing her character with real emotional depth, such as when she was pleading not to be made to marry Richard. Always interesting to watch, this was a coherent and well-thought-through performance.

John (Ian Russell): Poor John! From his first entrance daubed with painful-looking spotty make-up, Ian achieved the impressive feat of making a not easily likeable character into a figure of sympathy. Sturdy in the face of his brothers’ taunts, he nonetheless had a brilliant way with impotent stompy juvenile rage – entirely convincing and frequently very entertaining.

Geoffrey (Alex Roth): Alex provided a quiet, steady presence, the contrasting voice of calm who was soon revealed to be as cynically calculating and fickle in allegiance as his brothers. He gave a great, shrewd portrayal, and we particularly enjoyed his condescendingly measured way of speaking. We would, though, encourage Alex to make more eye contact with his fellow performers during long stretches of dialogue – this may have been a character decision, but his tendency to deliver some of his lines out front when most other characters were interacting more naturalistically was a little bit distracting. A subtle and interesting performance, however!

Richard (Peter Galloway): Peter’s performance was fascinating to watch. Grim and haughtily imperious, he delivered every line as a wolfish snarl, and you could easily imagine his prince growing up into the steely crusader Richard I. His physicality and characterisation hummed with pent up anger, and he felt constantly on a knife edge, a fraction away from lashing out – it was very compelling.  What a chilling portrayal (his delivery of lines like ‘I’m colder, I feel less’ was truly sinister) – very effective, well done.

Eleanor (Karen Rogers): Initially charming and exuberant, this was a deliciously scheming portrayal that was subtle and multifaceted – Karen really did justice to the sly intelligence of Eleanor, while also conveying her lingering fondness for Henry with great depth and interest. As mentioned in our notes for Henry II above, the pair showed real understanding of each other and were clearly very comfortable working together. We’d also like to flag up her eloquent physical acting, which conveyed so much even when most of her body and, sometimes when standing in profile, her face, was concealed by her costume. Very well done!

Philip (Freddy Parker): This was an impassive and subtle performance, and Freddy really captured the character of a 17-year-old with big shoes to fill, facing up to a much more experienced monarch. We initially found him a little static and inscrutable in his performance, in part because he delivered much of his dialogue out to the audience rather than interacting naturally with other characters – but in the scene where the nature of his relationship with Richard became clear he really came into his own. Thereafter he showed real depth of emotion and humour – very interesting to see.

Adam Rabinowitz has put together a slick and coherent production with varied and very interesting characterisation and a clearly consistent creative vision. The use of space was particularly impressive – as we will discuss further in our notes on the set, this was a relatively compact performance space that transformed into such a wealth of different locations, and the available space was used extremely efficiently and effectively by the performers.

Sound and lighting:
Both sound and lighting were operated by Sarah Biggs with great effect and atmospheric results. We enjoyed the Christmassy music which helped to set the scene very efficiently, while the use of ambient sound, such as dripping water, added a lot of character to the various locations featured in the play. Light was used in a similarly economical and evocative way, painting an absorbing picture. Crucially, every creative decision only enhanced the scene in which it was used, nothing was distracting to the audience’s eye or ear. Nicely done!

Set Design:
Designed and constructed by Lee Kenneth, this was a seriously clever set, making maximum use of a fairly limited performance space, and reducing scene changes to moving a few bits of furniture and folding out/away flats – which makes for a much more efficient and slick production! We were really impressed to see how simply the space could be transformed from throne room to Eleanor’s cell to Alais’ room to wine cellar – I think we counted five or six different locations in all, depicted with great economy and attention to detail. Very nifty indeed! There were a couple of precarious moments in securing the flats during scene changes, but this may have been because it was opening night and the cast were still getting used to moving the various pieces – it was a great set, and very well-designed, bravo.

Credited to Liz Adams and Sylvia Zilesnick, the costumes deserve high praise for achieving something not always managed in a play with a historical setting: they didn’t look like fancy dress. Rather, these were convincing clothes, and lovely to look at – like something from a medieval tapestry. Eleanor and Henry’s costumes were particularly attractive and well-conceived, and we liked the thoughtful wintry touches such as realistically layered furs to help enhance our appreciation of the time and season.

Designed by Howard Platt, this was a super programme – attractive to look at, and packed with invaluable historical background information, complete with a timeline and a family tree concerning the dynasties depicted – very handy indeed. You might like to think about entering it for the Programme and Poster competition, details of which can be found on the NODA website

Front of house:
Thank you for such a warm welcome – it is always lovely to meet new groups, and our one regret about covering other districts is that we make new friends who we won’t get to see again for a while! I hope we get to see another LADS show in the future – thank you for making us feel so at home.