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Players ‘re-enact’ town’s notorious past

Four Nights in Knaresborough runs at the Frazer Theatre next month
Four Nights in Knaresborough runs at the Frazer Theatre next month

The new production from the Knaresborough Players dramatises the most notorious year in Knaresborough’s history.

On Christmas Day 1170, four knights – Reginald Fitzurse, William de Traci, Richard le Bret and Hugh de Morville – left Henry II’s court in Normandy and four days later murdered Archbishop Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral.

They then fled north and holed up for a year in Knaresborough Castle.

And so Knaresborough came to play host to four of the most famous assassins in English history.

In his play Four Nights in Knaresborough, Paul Webb imagines the progress of that year as the four men confront each other and the outlook for their future survival.

Frustration with their confinement breeds a downward spiral of conflict, which is increased by the presence of a female in their 
company.

All this is dramatised through the imagined events of four nights spanning the year 1171.

Writing about his play, Paul Webb said: In the literature concerning the struggle between Henry and Becket the knights have been strangely neglected.

“They’re the ones who did the job, after all. And there’s the year in Knaresborough Castle.

“What went on between them? Strangely, much of the play is a comedy – a fact which took me completely by surprise when I started writing it.

“But I wanted to convey the immense energy, intelligence and wit of these 12th century characters. They are decidedly our equals.”

Written in modern English, and containing strong language and sexual references, Four Nights in Knaresborough promises a stimulating evening of contemporary theatre.

The feud between King and Archbishop – Church and State – was imortalised in the film Beckett with Richard Burton as Beckett and fellow hellraiser Peter O’Toole as King Henry II.

Legend as it that the fate of the Archbishop lay in the words: Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?

It runs at the Frazer Theatre in Knaresborough from Wednesday October 10 to Saturday October 13.

It is on daily at 7.30pm.

Tickets cost £10 (£8 over 6o) and are available from The Old Chemist Shop, Market Place, Knaresborough.

On line at www.frazertheatre.co.uk

Or phone: 07835 927965.