Four Knights in Knaresborough

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Sewell Barn, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

> Sewell Barn, Norwich

Murder in the cathedral, however great the temptation, is a disastrous career move.

The four Norman knights who did the deed at Canterbury lose no time coming to this conclusion as they settle down in the chilly castle of Knaresborough and think over the killing of Thomas Becket.

Essentially an awkward-squad play, Paul Webb's Four Nights shows tensions rising, nerves fraying and a variety of versions of the truth emerging as the companions quarrel. The date of 1170 is reflected in the costumes, but the language is distinctly fruity in its modernity. As for the attitudes, they are probably eternal, particularly among the military.

Jon Hyde and Jonathan Rea are the directors of this Great Escape Production, and Doreen Aitken provides a set that creates a feeling of claustrophobia. There, Tom Bidwell, Dominic Yeates, Jeremy Page and Sholto Morgan explore their dilemmas, sometimes even showing sensitivity that cuts down their status as men of action. Emma Coghill complicates issues as one lady alone might well do in a castle, and does so very prettily. From Jerry Ferley comes a cameo of civilian cynicism that outflanks his so-called betters.

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The pace is speedy, and jokes come thick, fast and often crude enough to be unrepeatable. Moments of psychology are punctured with fisticuffs, even some blood-curdling do-it-yourself dentistry. It all makes for good entertainment. The brief discussion of old conundrums about the problem of evil and the nature of free will, though, are almost embarrassing. It's a relief to move back to the play's devil-may-care style.

t Performances at the Sewell Barn this weekend and at the UEA Drama Studio on October 1-3.

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