Four Nights in Knaresborough

Written by Paul Webb

Tuesday 14th February to Saturday 18th February 2006

Directed by Alice Corrigan and Liam Penny

The 12th Century: The Archbishop of Canterbury is dead and England is crying out for the murderers' blood. The four knights guilty of the crime are being hunted by their King and fellow countrymen, their lives and careers are ruined and one of them has a bloody awful toothache...

This modern play by Paul Webb attempts to answer the question of what happened after these men committed "the worst career move in history". Set over the following year, in a castle in deepest, darkest Yorkshire, Four Nights in Knaresborough explores the legacy of history and relationships under strain.

Funny, violent, touching and intelligent; join Brito, Traci, Morville and Fitz as they fight, freeze and fornicate through the worst year of their lives.

AuthorPaul Webb

Paul Webb

Playwright and theatrical historian Paul Webb, began his writing career as Paul Corcoran, before changing his name. An authority on Ivor Novello, he produced a biography of the actor, singer, playwright and composer 'Ivor Novello: a Portrait of a Star' in 1999. His plays include 'A Dangerous Woman', 'Four Nights In Knaresborough' and 'The Lodger' - a play set in 1953 about an ex-lover of Novello's recollections of his time in the West End limelight.

PlayFour Nights in Knaresborough

'Four Nights in Knaresborough' was Paul Webb's first play and opened at the Tricycle Theatre in November 1999. A film version of the play, scripted by Webb and entitled 'Four Knights' is to be produced by The Weinstein Company, directed by Paul McGuigan.

The play recounts the aftermath of the murder of Thomas Becket by four knights making "the worst career choice in history". Despite being an historical drama, the play uses modern language, including an abundance of profanity and slang. Set in 1171, 'Four Nights in Knaresborough' opens in Canterbury Cathedral where knights, Brito, Fitz, Morville, and Traci come to arrest the Archbishop of Canterbury. Unfortunately, rather than arresting him, Becket is killed by Fitz. The knights then flee to Knaresborough Castle in Yorkshire where they ensconce themselves for a year to avoid the wrath of the public and the Pope.

Over the course of four evenings, in January, March, September and December, the play portrays the gradual decline of the knights, showing their repressed desires, fears and misgivings. Emphasising clashes of personalities, the play glosses over the deeper political and historical consequences of the murder.

The Bench Production

Four Nights in Knaresborough poster image

This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.


BritoMartin McBride
TraciNeil Kendall
FitzDamon Wakelin
MorvilleJeff Bone
Becket, John
and Wigmore
Pete Woodward
CatherineRobin Hall


Directors Alice Corrigan
Liam Penny
Producer David Penrose
Stage Manager Zoë Chapman
Assistant Stage Managers Emma Skinner
James Hall
Lighting Design Nathan Chapman
Lighting Operation Mark Wakeman
Sound Operation Nathan Chapman
Costumes Sue Dawes
Set Design David Penrose
Publicity Liam Penny
Programme Editor Liam Penny
Front of House Ingrid Corrigan

Directors' Notes

As first-time directors, we decided to choose a play that we both liked, and that had a reasonable amount of movement as I, foolishly, was nervous about tackling a more static, emotional play. However, by choosing a play such as this with its combination of action and emotional highs and lows, as well as one that necessitates having to find costumes and props appropriate for the 12th Century, we gave ourselves quite a challenge. Expect our next play to be modern day with lots of talking. Having said that, the process of doing this production has been completely rewarding with an extremely supportive cast and crew, willing to put themselves through quite a lot to help us in our endeavour.

Alice Corrigan

'Four Nights' is a play I've been fond of for a few years, ever since my soon to be father-in-law Pete Corrigan brought a copy along to a Bench Club Night. What I found most interested me was the fact that it was completely different from what, as far as I know, we have done before; in terms of mixing modern language with a period setting. I can't think of a time during the whole play process when I haven't enjoyed myself, from the auditions

Liam Penny


The NewsMike Allen

Knight's Tale Takes Time To Engage

The danger with a play in which the characters pass much of their time in boredom is that the audience will do the same. And the danger is not entirely averted in Bench Theatre's production. Paul Webb's play, more speculative than factual, focuses on the time the four knights who killed Thomas Becket spent holed up in a Yorkshire castle. It touches interestingly on subjects such as guilt, sexuality, love, faith, martyrdom, power, politics and parenthood. But it comes wholly engaging only near the end, with the revelation of the supposed motivation of Fitz, the man who struck the first blow against Becket.

First-time directors Alice Corrigan and Liam Penney do well with the humour - often coarse, occasionally more subtle - but need to inject more pace and to discourage the otherwise excellent Neil Kendall from shouting too much. All six actors show merit, with Damon Wakelin especially potent in Fitz's brooding and raging, but the most encouraging performance comes from Martin McBride. After a slightly nervy start last night, he was supremely natural in making Brito properly obnoxious in his insolence and arrogance. This is a young actor with a bright future.

The News, 15th February 2006

Production Photographs