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Honour Bright

Play in three acts

This play was one of two found in some papers deposited by Victor Canning’s widow Adria in the American Heritage Center of the University of Wyoming. There is no way to be sure of the date it was written, but some time in the 1960s seems most likely. Canning had already had one stage play (called Beggar’s Bush) produced professionally in 1940, but since then had concentrated on writing novels and thrillers and subsequently film and TV scripts. Presumably he had contacts in the professional theatre who would have encouraged him to revive his career as a playwright, but perhaps no theatre was available and the projects stagnated. The scripts have been professionally typed, which suggests that they were at some stage under consideration by a theatre management. Canning died in 1986, and it is likely that nobody has looked at either script for thirty-five years or more.

The setting is Drakenburg Castle in the Carinthian Alps. The year is 1194. Baron Denzil is holding for ransom Godfrey of Ware, a captured crusader, and the main action concerns Godfrey's efforts to persuade Denzil's mistress, Yolanda, to run away with him when the ransom is paid. There is a matching sub-plot concerning the servants.

The climax of Act I is a demonstration of "Greek Fire", which Godfrey has brought with him from his travels. I suspect this scene was inspired by William Golding's play The Brass Butterfly which was staged in 1958.