Galloping Romans, flaming arrows, water-jets, cathedrals, mysterious ships rising from a dark, still lake. There’s only one word to describe Kynren: spectacular
What is it?
Taking inspiration from the extraordinary Puy Du Fou night pageant in the Vendée region of France, the show explores 2000 years of English history through 90 minutes of thrill-mongering stunts, gasp-worthy special effects, staggering pyrotechnics, a secret-concealing lake – and 1000 volunteer actors.
Where is it?
The rolling countryside around Bishop Auckland, County Durham, serves as a backdrop for everything from marauding Vikings to Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.
What can you expect to see?
For the first-timer, Kynren is a head-spin. Set-pieces appear and disappear, actors seem to be everywhere. Watching a battle, you turn your head for a second, glance back and a castle – or a long ship, or a time portal – has risen from the lake itself. The Venerable Bede walks across the water through swirling mists, Queen Elizabeth I arrives by barge, Stephenson’s Rocket chuffs across distant tracks.
A few feet from the front row, Boudicca and her daughters, Saxon invaders and medieval jousting knights thunder past, seemingly inches away. A Roman is dragged by a galloping horse to a sticky end while a Viking and his steed hurtle by, wreathed in genuine flame.
Is it all performed by volunteers?
Kynren, adapted from the Anglo-Saxon ‘cynren’, meaning ‘kindred’ or ‘family’, refers to the shared history of much of its audience, but even more to the camaraderie of 1500 dedicated individuals who work together every year to create something awe-inspiring. An army of highly-trained costumiers, prop-makers, stewards, divers, pyrotechnics teams and front-of-house staff supports 1000 performers and scores of scene-stealing animals. In a region with high levels of unemployment, this is skills-training at its most jaw-dropping.
So it’s local history?
Sort of. Kynren looks at English history through the eyes of the North East. St Cuthbert, Lindisfarne and Durham Cathedral all enjoy their moment in the spotlight, while King Harold’s arrow-in-the-eye at Hastings is put into context through his victory, a few days earlier, at Stamford Bridge.
Who will enjoy it?
This is solidly traditional fare, aimed at families. It will be great to see some diversity in the cast , something bound to happen as Kynren continues to grow, year by year.
Kynren runs for 17 performances throughout Summer 2018. For tickets and further information see www.kynren.com