Set in the early nineteenth century - a time when there was growing civil unrest in England - 'Courtenay' is based on a true story about the charismatic character at the centre of the worsening troubles. The events leading up to the last battle to be fought on English soil are vividly portrayed on stage in this compelling musical drama. A story charged with conflicting situations of morality versus power, of love, loyalty and ultimately of bloody rebellion.
'COURTENAY'S WALTZ'. Courtenay arrives 'on the scene' in Canterbury, as a kind of knight in shining armour (or as, he claims, ‘The Knight of Malta’), with the avowed intent of seeing the underdogs lifted out of the mire of despondency. Although welcomed by some and repulsed by others, the question remains - who exactly is this man?
'A ROUTE WITHOUT END'. The authorities, initially in the guise of the City Marshal, Captain Townsend, are wary of his presence, but a young country girl, Sarah Culver, is instantly attracted to Courtenay's charismatic persona. Her childhood sweetheart, Nicholas Mears, becomes suspicious of a relationship between the two. Another person in the gathering crowd is one who describes himself as a man of many parts. He is also a kind of narrator-cum-observer and runs throughout the story.
'DISTANT THOUGHTS' is sung by Katherine - who she is, is unimportant at the moment.
'VISIONS - 1'. Courtenay, who has declared himself a parliamentary candidate - his 'ticket' being for the equality of all - sees his future laid out before him. In a way he is an early Socialist.
'TROUBLES IN THE MIND'. Young Sarah tries to convince Mears of her love for him.
'THE HUSTINGS'. Courtenay loses the election, however gains further support from Sarah. And greater opposition from Townsend when he vows to publish a rabble-rousing broadsheet entitled ‘The Lion’ - intending to strike at the hearts of the complacent rich.
'SARAH CULVER' Although all apart, this is sung by Sarah, Courtenay and Mears. Sarah and Courtenay are both aware of their growing attraction for one another - and Mears can see it too.
'THE LION'. Courtenay's broadsheet is launched in a glitzy manner with Sarah at the forefront of the 'junket'. Within the pages, Courtenay threatens bloody reprisals against those he opposes if they refuse to 'hear the voice of the people'.
'SEDITION'. The city fathers demand that Courtenay be stopped - the means to deal with him must be found by Townsend.
'RUN HIM TO THE GROUND'. In a first attempt to keep himself in high profile, Courtenay rigs (or possibly he rigs) the mugging of a gentleman and 'heroically' goes to his rescue. His second 'good deed' is to give aid, by acting as a witness for the defence, to some fishermen accused of smuggling - but his statement is proved by Townsend to be false.
'THE ARREST'. Courtenay is arrested on the charge of perjury.
'THE PHOENIX'. As soon as word gets out, his followers gather outside the gaol and a riot grows as they demand his release. It is actually Sarah who succeeds in this by persuading the gentleman, who was rescued by Courtenay, to put up bail.
The act ends on a high note with a rousing chorus from Courtenay and the Ensemble.
‘FIGURES IN THE SNOW'. Sarah, who is now constantly in the company of Courtenay, has a disquieting dream.
'ROLL A PENNY'. Courtenay is tried for perjury and imprisoned before being deported. Sarah accuses the over zealous Townsend of being the cause.
'EVEN IF I DROWN'. Although no longer 'together', Sarah tries to explain to Mears her love for Courtenay.
‘ICE’. A premonition of what is to come - the chill of Winter in Summertime.
'MRS TOM'. Katherine (seen once in act one) is far off in her home in Cornwall. She hears from a relative that the 'guilty' Courtenay answers the (posted) description of her missing husband - John Tom.
'I DO NOT KNOW YOU'. Katherine convinces the prison authorities that Courtenay really is her husband. But Courtenay (by now established as a manic depressive) denies any knowledge of her. Because of his condition, he is sent to a lunatic asylum and the deportation order is quashed.
'UTOPIA'. Even though he is locked away, he sings of a bright and powerful future. The inmates of the asylum are allowed visitors and so it is inevitable that, the still unacknowledged, Katherine and Sarah will meet.
'ALL I SEE'. Although perplexed by Katherine's claim to be Courtenay's wife and his continued denial of her, Sarah vows, in song, that she will remain loyal to him.
'NEMESIS'. After four years of incarceration, Courtenay is deemed fit for release. And he takes no time before returning to his old ways. Now seeing himself as the Son of God, and believed by many, he quickly rallies his troops and sets about starting a rebellion. Sarah, as one of his most avid supporters, goes with him.
'DEMANDS'. The city leaders demand his arrest.
'KATHERINE'. Katherine goes to Courtenay's encampment in Bosenden Wood and tries to persuade him to stop. She is unsuccessful, however he seems to recognize her at last.
'DAYBREAK'. Townsend hands the warrant for Courtenay's arrest to the local constable - he is Mears' brother. But, as he is married and has children, Nicholas insists on going in his stead - besides, he has to get Sarah away from the madman.
'SWORDPLAY'. Mears is determined to rescue Sarah, but Courtenay intervenes. And then challenges Townsend to a sword fight - powerfully underscored. Townsend is the more proficient, however Courtenay does not fight according to the 'rules'. Townsend is killed. When Mears starts to pull Sarah away, Courtenay stops him. Mears persists and without any warning Courtenay shoots him at point blank range. Mears dies in Sarah's arms. She has realized the truth about Courtenay too late.
'THE BATTLE'. The militia are called out and, although fighting bravely, Courtenay - and his supporters are gunned down. Courtenay rises one last time, claiming, 'You cannot kill the son of God!' Maybe not, however they certainly kill him.
'A BRIGHT START'. Although it was a devastating day, good eventually comes as a result of the action. The voices of the poor have, at last, been heard good and loud.
Sir William Courtenay – Jason Allen
Sarah Culver – Alice Martin
Nicholas Mears – Alex Murphy
Captain Townsend – Alaric Green
Music - Ethan Lewis Maltby
Lyrics - Christopher Neame
Additional Lyrics - Jenna Donnelly