Northwest Classical Theatre’s production of The Lion in Winter might as well be called Game of Thrones: Christmas Edition. Director Elizabeth Huffman has given James Goldman’s play modern scenery, an upscale living room decked out with cheerful Christmas décor. But don’t let that fool you. The story, set circa 1183, centers on King Henry II of England as he and his queen Eleanor battle over which son will inherit the throne. There’s Richard, the warrior; Jeffrey, the forgotten; and John, Daddy’s favorite and the fool, right down to his untucked shirt and rainbow-colored vest. Tensions rise and fall as brother betrays brother, mother betrays son, father betrays everyone—but the real fun comes in watching Marilyn Stacey weave Queen Eleanor’s web as deliberately and gracefully as a spider intent on a big and delicious payoff. At one moment despondent at Henry’s latest move and then smiling the next, Stacey’s performance constantly surprises, and she cries, smirks and bickers her way through the play’s most dangerous and emotional moments. All the manipulation and backstabbing can grow overwhelming in the 2½-hour runtime, but The Lion in Winter should still tide over hungry Game of Thrones fans until the spring.
SEE IT: The Lion in Winter is at the Shoebox Theater, 2110 SE 10th Ave., 971-244-3740. 7:30 pm Thursdays-Saturdays and 2 pm Sundays through Jan. 5. $20.