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Bloodbaths and betrayal in Four Nights in Knaresborough



Review by Emma Whitelaw

WRITER, Paul Webb, gives a history lesson with a Tarantino twist in his play, Four Nights in Knaresborough, now showing at Riverside Studios.

The murder of Thomas Beckett is given a modern reworking Kill Bill-style as we see it through the eyes and ears (some of which are dismembered) of those who bore witness to the gruesome event.

The play opens with the brutal slaying of the then Bishop of Canterbury, Thomas Beckett. His four assassins beg him to come quietly but all goes wrong and Beckett’s defiance soon sees him the victim of a most horrendous crime.

The assassins flee to Yorkshire to await their King’s judgement. They hear nothing and live in a torturous limbo for months upon months not knowing the fate which awaits them.

Juliet Howland gives a stunning portrayal as Catherine, the woman who unwittingly tears the men apart.

Catherine is a strong, independent and intelligent widower. She longs to find a man that will give her and her son financial security. In Morville, played by the delightful Demetri Alexander, she finds this man.


Her heart, however, belongs to another – the younger, more attractive Brito. Piers Ronan plays the part of the young knight brilliantly.

He meets Catherine shortly after the murder and instantly falls for her beauty. She is weary of him at first and finds his relentless advances irritating.

He soon gets under her skin and the two embark upon an illicit affair much to the disgust of fellow knight and Brito’s mentor, Traci.

Ken Bradshaw is superb as the jealous Traci. His jealously, however, doesn’t stem from lust for a woman; rather it is because he lusts after Brito.

Traci’s homosexuality is revealed when former lover, Fitz, accuses him of lusting after a man he knows he will never have. What comes as even more of a surprise is when Brito reveals he has known about it all along!

The play is very well written and contains some marvellously witty dialogue throughout. The characters are well rounded and the set and costume design was sublime. I particularly liked the way in which the steel walls emphasised the brutal cold of the castle in January.

Sometimes gory, sometimes hilarious, the show encompasses every element found in a modern day action movie. Interestingly enough, the script is already in the hands of Miramax.

See it before it hits the big screen!

Four Nights in Knaresborough by Paul Webb. Directed by Peter Farago. Starring Martin Chamberlain, Ken Bradshaw, Demetri Alexander, Piers Ronan, Juliet Howland and Peter-Hugo Daly. March 23 – April 17 at Riverside Studios, Crisp Road, Hammersmith, London W6 9RL. Box office 020 8237 1111.

 

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