Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Lion in Winter

Lakewood Theatre Company
January 21, 2006; closes February 19, 2006

Polished production, though vigorous pace, broad characterizations gave 12th-century black comedy a corny edge, downplaying acerbic bite to playful nip. And, like so many Portland plays lately, what’s with the acting-by-shouting? One can’t make up emotion with volume, nor are louder lines necessarily funnier. Technical elements were all well executed.

15 comments:

qk said...

Not bad at all! Lakewood always seems to shock me-- who would have thought that a little community theater in the suburbs could put on such good shows! Despite a few little flaws in the performances, (I would agree that there was a little too much yelling) I thought the show held up very well. I also have to add that the set was beautiful! Kudos to all. I'd recommend it.

Robert L. said...

Ted Roisum is anything but community theatre -- one of the finest actors anywhere. His Henry is a wonderfully believable medieval king, and the woman playing Eleanor of Aquitaine is every bit his equal. Go, if only to see these two light up the stage (and each other)!

rufus said...

I've never understood the assumption of inferiority that people make about community theatre. Upon what are such assumptions based? Production values? Actor/staff fees? Seating capacity? Lakewood is not a unique "community" theatre, and these common gauges of "professionalism" are more fully realized at Lakewood than at most other theatres in Portland. Is it a rating of on-stage talent? Come on, I've found terrible performances (as well as lovely ones) at practically every theatre in town. Haven't you? Is it a simple matter of geographical location? If so, well, equating distance from downtown with quality seems just silly to me. Is it because of play choice? This, I suspect, may be it. Too bad, I think. In my life, anyway, there's room for all types of plays.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I saw a different productions. I thought the set was choppy and graceless. The costumes were right out of MGM's Robin Hood. They were beautiful but so Technicolor! And as far as the storytelling goes, I was bored to tears. This play should come off as the chess match to end all chess matches. I never saw the game being played. Where was the intrigue? Just speaking this great dialogue (really loudly) does not do justice to this play. You have to live it, be it. The acting styles were so varied. It was as if they were all in different plays. And yet I say, "go see it" and prove me wrong. Please remember that Lakewood is about the oldest theatre company in the Portland area and for good reason. I just don't think this was their best effort.

Anonymous said...

We must have seen different productions indeed...bored to tears? Hardly. I found the set breath taking in it's simplicity and versatility--a wonderful blank canvas upon which the lights were used deftly to augment the environment.

The story is altogether to engaging to be boring however the performances do vary in strength-which is true of any theatre anywhere-I particularly enjoyed the actors portraying Eleanor and Richard but felt that all the actors had moments that were very engaging. In the end I would recommend it--even if you don't like it there are plenty of elements for discussion and it's worth an evening not spent in front of "Survivor".

Anonymous said...

Lakewood treats their people awesome. I've never been treated with so much respect as an artist. They respect an artists time. They pay really well. Better that PCS pays non-equity players. I'd work at Lakewood over PCS or ART any day of the week. PCS chooses worse scripts than Lakewood & ART is cobbled & crippled by Kretzu.

I've never seen PCS or ART choose challenging scripts. ART picks scripts that have just had a proven run in NY or LA, so they avoid any risk at all, and PCS...who knows why they're doing what they do They pick scripts that have had a hundred thousand showings in recent years. No risk there either. At least Lakewood takes a few scripts a year that challenge their subscriber base.

So, of the three houses that have to cater to a subscriber base, (which sucks for them because they can't take much risk) Suprisingly Lakewood takes far more risk than either of the other two houses.

Kudos to Lakewood.

Anonymous said...

Wow.

I mean this as neither negative towards Lakewood, nor positive towards ART or PCS, but - just curious here - where is the risk you see Lakewood taking? I'm not criticizing - I like this year's shows - heck, in some circles, doing Neil Simon is risky 'cause people might throw things at you :) But what do you see as risky or challenging - "Vitriol and Violets" from last year?

I don't think a show loses all it's risk just because it was successful once somewhere else. And PCS, if nothing else, has done a world premiere right out of JAW/West three seasons running. Again... I'm not trying to make a case for anyone here, just asking.(And maybe I shouldn't be posting this because it's not about the show at hand)

In any case, I'm glad to hear it's so good working there.

Anonymous said...

Let's be honest here--no theatre with a budget larger than $100 can "afford" to be risky. They must cater to the people who pay to see their shows--simple reality--It's in indirect proportion- the more money involved the less likely you are to see avant garde brilliance. I agree with the comments about Eleanor and Richard...I enjoyed the show immensely. The night I saw it there was a standing ovation.

jeff said...

Ah, the standing O...

There was a thread about the mysteries of the O earlier on this site here:

http://followspot.blogspot.com/2005/11/great-portland-rolling-ovation.html

And I wish I could add a comment about "Lion" but I haven't seen it yet

-j

La Foi said...

Let me get this straight: more money = less risk, and budgets less than $100 = avant garde brilliance? This makes no sense to me. I've never seen a Lakewood show, but regardless of their budget, they aren't going to be dipping their toes into the avant garde anytime soon, are they?

I'm part of an 'avant garde' theatre in town, and I personally think more money/bigger budgets would be GREAT, and wouldn't compromise our vision at all. It would mean we could quit our day jobs and devote more time & energy to ATTAINING AVANT GARDE BRILLIANCE.

Obviously, being tied to the people paying you is an issue... but I think there are people out there who would pay to see risk-taking theatre. Look at PICA! Big budget, AND risky!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful production. I thought the production was top notch across the boards. All the acting was strong especially Eleanor, Henry and Richard. A Beautiful production that everyone really should see for themselves. Well done Lakewood and everyone involved in LION in Winter you have a great production and should be proud!

Anonymous said...

As someone who is rather involved with Lakewood, they do treat their employees very well. Replying to an earlier post in this thread, I've always thought of professional theater as the houses that pay their artists, whereas community theaters don't. Who knows, thats just been my interpretation of the two. I love Lakewood; but I just want to point out that ART is taking a risk with producing Assassins this year. Sondheim in general is challenging, and Assassins (at least in my opinion) definitely ranks up there as one of his most difficult musically and book wise. I'm so excited to see a theater company out here take a risk with a show such as Assassins, when we're used to seeing such overdone shows as "Bye Bye Birdie" and "Chicago". Don't get me wrong, those are fine shows... but it's nice to see something new. Very excited to see what ART does with that production. Anyways, go see Lion In Winter for yourself and see what you think!

Anonymous said...

I don't have much of anything to add about this production. I went to see a couple friends as well as Mr. Roisum, whose dependably strong work I've enjoyed for years. People to whom I've recommended the production -- actors and non-actors -- have told me they've "never gotten down there" (to Lakefront) for a show. That's sad, but an understandable fact of life, I suppose -- since I'm sure there are people in the inner metro core that have never seen a play downtown but would surely have enjoyed some of them. (I feel guilty about never having been out to see a show at Sandy, though at least I have some excuse because I'm carless . . . .) Anyway, I was in the "smallest" audience Lion in Winter has had -- on SuperBowl Sunday, and we all loved it. Incredibly good writing -- made me want to read up on all the real characters on which the show is based. Fascinating time, fascinating people, although they surely couldn't have been as witty and cool as playwright James Goldman made them -- and Roisum, Becker and company enlivened them.

Connell said...

I agree that Lakewood treats its artists well. I had a great time in both shows I did there.

I also think they are to commended for having taken a HUGE financial and artistic risk a few years ago with SWEENEY TODD. I'm not an objective judge, having played one of the villains, but I thought it was a great show that didn't get nearly the support it should have, esp. from critics who have harped on Lakewood for years about playing it safe.

Anonymous said...

The remarks about actors "speaking too loudly" have stuck with me, and I wanted to suggest that perhaps there was an artistic justification for this. Remember that these characters were powerful, wealthy, imposing in their time -- yet they had few of the tools that powerful people routinely use today to impose their will on others: dramatic lighting, sound systems, microphones, lights or buzzers or pagers or email to summon staff and issue orders, etc. One of the few ways one had of imposing one's will on others at that time was through the strength of one's voice. Perhaps kings, queens, and princes of the 15th century were accustomed to speaking loudly? Can't be certain this underlay the acting choices in the Lakewood show, but it makes some sense to me. -- Quixel