April 23, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

James Goldman’s self-consciously clever historical comedy centers on England’s Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine’s battle over which of their three dysfunctional sons will succeed to the throne. With all the name calling and sexual machinations, it could be billed as ”Jerry Springer Visits the 12th Century.” After bowing on Broadway in 1966, The Lion in Winter went on to become a successful 1968 film starring Peter O’Toole and Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn. The atmospheric location and John Barry’s surging score must have distracted movie audiences from the muddled plot and excessively sarcastic dialogue. Without such props, the talented Laurence Fishburne and Stockard Channing are at a severe disadvantage in the Roundabout’s revival. D

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