The Lion in Winter


Writers: James Goldman


Show Information

Text And Format
Number of Acts
First Produced
Drama, Dark Comedy, Historical/Biographical
Time & Place
christmas 1183, the king’s castle in chinon, france (ruled by britain)
Cast Size
Ideal for
high school, university theatre, community theatre, regional theatre, professional theatre
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes mature adult, late teen, young adult, adult characters


Betrayal, treachery, and a knife fight: it’s just another normal Christmas celebration for the royal Plantagenet family of Britain. In The Lion in Winter, King Henry II throws a Christmas feast for the newly crowned King of France. Also in attendance for the holiday celebrations are Henry’s three plotting sons, each eager to take the throne, and Henry’s manipulative wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, newly released from house arrest (after raising an army against Henry). Even though they need to appear a happy family for the King of France, this doesn’t stop each Plantagenet from secretly plotting to take the others down. While the three sons backstab and squabble to take their place in history, Eleanor and Henry use their offspring as pawns against each other in a dangerous game of cat and mouse. Told in "marvelously articulate language, with humor that bristles and burns ("Los Angeles Times")”, The Lion in Winter is a play that transcends the historical genre to become a bitingly hilarious family drama.

Lead Characters

The Lion in Winter guide sections