Kynren – An Epic Tale of England has now been running since 2016; it is clear why audiences return year after year to see this incredible spectacle!
Reviewed by Jennie Eyres, Editor Raring2go! Harrogate & York
This isn’t a show, its an experience and it has to be seen to be believed.
2,000 years of history are woven in with legends, battles and key characters from English history, taking audiences chronologically through events that have shaped England, both those that are to be celebrated, and remembered in the hope they will never happen again. The Kynren audience sit in a purpose built 8,000 seater tribune as the drama unfolds in front of them on a huge scale. There is so much to look at across the whole expanse of the massive arena, that you could go to this once a year, year on year and still see something different every time.
The drama builds throughout the hour and a half show, and there is barely a pause for breath. This means that you may not totally understand exactly what is going on at all points in the show, but this really doesn’t matter!
Kynren is about a feeling, dancing, fighting and emotions as much as it is about the storyline, I challenge you not to smile, gasp, shed a tear and gaze in awe at the transformation that happens before your eyes.
The incredible special effects, sounds and lighting are what really elevates this show over and above a ‘normal’ outdoor theatre production. A Viking boat, complete with real life(!) Vikings emerges from the water, horseback riders are set on fire, flares and fireworks set the night sky alight and the use of projections onto various backgrounds create some memorable highlights. You will be nudging those next to you for sure, saying, ‘Look at that!’ and ‘Wow, did you see that?’
Much more than an historical re-enactment
The story is told through the eyes of a boy, Arthur who is transported back in time to find out about his forefathers. We join him on a spellbinding journey through time and watch legends come to life in the thrilling tale of his quest. The name ‘Kynren’ echoes the Anglo Saxon word ‘cynren’, meaning generations, kin or family, and is a fitting name for Arthur’s epic discovery of his roots.
Kynren – An Epic Tale of England has now been running since 2016; it is clear why audiences return year after year to see this incredible spectacle.
So much to look at across the whole expanse of the massive arena
Much more than just an historical re-enactment, this show brings to life the story of England, and in particular many important events local to the North East. From Boudicca’s battles with the Romans to two world wars, via Vikings, Tudors and the fate of Charles I, we also catch a glimpse of the Beatles and there is a fitting mention of the Windrush generation too.
33 horses and 30 geese!
Each scene involves hundreds of people all dressed in detailed, well-researched costumes of the day and many children and animals are involved too, including 33 horses and 30 geese! One of the major highlights for me was the jousting scene in which horses thunder along the path in front of the audience attempting to hit shield targets.
Another favourite for me is the coal mining scene, which carefully and respectfully portrays the dangers that the miners faced, and a major colliery disaster, of which there were around 30 in Durham and Northumberland between 1800 and 1899, claiming the lives of more than 1,500 men and boys.
The finale itself is worth the ticket price alone!
Kynren has a cast and crew of almost 1500 volunteers called Archers, indeed on show nights it is entirely orchestrated by them. Whole families are involved with children as young as five taking part, and the oldest being eighty!
The finale itself is worth the ticket price alone, a riot of sound, colour and an incredible fireworks display that absolutely takes your breath away. This isn’t a show, its an experience and it has to be seen to be believed.
Where and when?
- The 90-minute extravaganza, will be performed every Saturday from July 29 until September 9.
- Kynren takes place at 11 Arches Park in Bishop Auckland, just 25 minutes from Durham and Darlington, and a town steeped in history spanning the Romans, generations of powerful Prince Bishops and the Industrial Revolution.
- Performances every Saturday. Start times get earlier as the summer months progress to make sure the lighting conditions for the performance go from daylight to darkness.
- Each performance is 90 minutes, with no interval. For more information and to book tickets visit the Kynren Website
- As it is a summer spectacular and needs to be quite dark for fireworks at the end, the show does start and finish quite late.
- The Tribune is uncovered so be prepared for the weather & bring warm layers, waterproofs etc. Umbrellas aren’t allowed in the Tribune seating area so plastic rain ponchos are the ideal thing plus a blanket to cover your knees and a hat and gloves.
- The walk from the car park is a good 10-15 minutes but there is a shuttle bus (book in advance) and disabled parking further down the hill.
- Wear sturdy shoes/ boots or trainers and warm clothes.
- Food & drink cannot be brought in to Kynren, however this can be purchased on site, please check the Kynren website for details.