VICTORIAN PLAYERS 'Becket' portrays royal intrigue

King Henry's machinations cost him his dearest friend.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The close friendship between King Henry II and Thomas Becket and its ultimate demise were showcased as the Victorian Players presented "Becket" Thursday evening.
While not completely accurate historically, the story is rife with the drama of two powerful men, a king and his close adviser, whose deep friendship begins unraveling when Henry's lust for power over the church and its priests prompts him to elevate Becket to the highest religious office in the land, Archbishop of Canterbury.
Henry's somewhat barbaric mind cannot grasp the concept that his actions require Becket, a deeply intellectual man, to ultimately go against the king when he tries to overrule God's law. In so doing, Henry's machinations cost him his dearest and most loyal friend. Becket, too, suffers in a position he neither sought nor desired, but accepted out of his duty to his king. He is despised by his fellow priests and ultimately both despised and loved by the king himself.
Cast: Timothy Stanley and Mac Michael starred as Henry and Becket, respectively, giving powerful performances as the erstwhile friends. Both were strong and forceful as their characters' relationship started out close and then began a slow evaporation. Stanley's bombastic manner as Henry was well-suited to the role, even as Michael's more introspective demeanor befitted the character of Becket.
Marilyn Higgins did well as Gwendolen, a love interest of both Becket and Henry, and equal to their tasks in dual roles as bishops were Ron Johnson, Scott Hudson, Perc Kelty and Tom Jones. Hudson and Jones also performed double duty with roles as barons, and Joan Hamilton and Jeanne Hanuschak also gave dual performances as barons and monks. In fact, several of the performers switched roles throughout the play, a challenge which they rose to admirably.
Rounding out the supporting cast for the three-act drama were Pat Schauweker, Rex Judd, Patty Burgess, Lisa Bogen and Vern Rodenbaugh.
The set was well-wrought, especially rose window for the cathedral designed by Diana Ludwig.
Crew: Director Jean McClure Kelty has surrounded herself with an excellent crew as well in Rosa Dalbec, Christy Sipe, John Dalbec, Paul Dalbec, Doug Fowler, Tom Copeland, Janet White, Helga Ives and Barbara Berndt.
Also lending aid to this production with excellent background and incidental music were Darlene and Joe MacBenn.

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