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Review:Kynren at Bishop Auckland

The Story of Us –

A celebration of our culture and heritage


Flatts Farm, Bishop Auckland DL14 7SF

Until Saturday 17th September 2016

Spectacular. Kynren is the North East’s answer to the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. The 7.5 acre stage is the size of five football pitches with a cast and crew made up of 1000 volunteers. Visually arresting with a specially created score by Nathan Stornetta providing the pulse for its 90 minute duration. It all happens in the shadow of the historic Bishop Auckland Castle.

Kynren, meaning ‘family’ or ‘generation’ opens on the 2nd July and we were given a chance to see it ahead of the first night.  Kynren is a creative collaboration between the performance experts behind Puy du Fou’s award winning Cinéscénie show in France, and the team who delivered the mass choreography at the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony.

The Puy de Fou team have 50 requests a year to become artistic partners and Kynren represents the first full blown project outside of France.  The Bishop Auckland show is also the first time that the volunteer led community project model from the French show has been used. It has taken 3 years and £35 million to reach this point and those involved such feel justifiably proud.

One question that will be asked by some of the paying public is about the view of the show. Kynren has an 8000 seater stand which will enable everyone to see the whole show. Umbrellas are banned in order to preserve sight lines. Having said that, a central spot will make it easier to see the action which happens across the full width of the huge stage.

It is intended that Kynren is a live painting – a hymn – of our history. It uses elements of historic fact with generous doses of myth and legend to create the experience. The show begins very quietly as a young lad, Arthur Verity, kicks a ball across the Bishop’s park and kicks it through a window. In the discussion that follows with the Bishop it is clear that Arthur feels he is training to be a professional footballer but lacks much understanding of the history around him. The Bishop agrees to show him the history of the previous 2000 years. 

What follows starts with the Arthurian legend of the Knights of the Round Table and rapidly through 23 acts including the arrival of the Romans, King Harold winning at Stamford Bridge then losing the battle in Hastings and the arrival of the Prince Bishops. During this quick trip through time the set appears before your eyes. Whereas a conventional theatre drops the scenery from above, Kynren makes it all appear from below. A copy of Bishop Auckland Castle rose over the hill whilst other props, such as a Norman longboat, sprang up from the 3500m2lake.

The size of the cast means literal armies can appear and fight. The cast also includes 34 horses, 26 sheep, two goats, two cows, eight runner ducks, 12 large white ducks and five geese. The horses make regular appearances up to the arrival of the steam train. This is a North East history show and so Shakespeare, Elizabeth I and Henry VIII combine with the Miners Gala and the invention of the steam locomotive.

The tale may be lighter on historical fact and heavy on the visuals but it always remain entertaining. Our 13 year old commented that he felt that the history was being brought alive.

The plan is to keep developing the community based project in forthcoming years and to make it a top UK tourist destination. By the time the storyline reaches the 2 world wars the show is reaching its conclusion and perhaps these 2 significant events may have a bit more detail in the future.

So does the show have the wow factor? The changing starting times during the summer run of the show ensure that the bulk of the show happens at night.  The dark enables a wonderful array of lighting effects and fireworks. A visual using the water fountains in the lakes to show the story images was an early highlight.  The fireworks and other pyrotechnics build up from a simple comet in 1066 to quite a lavish affair.

Kynren is a magnificent family friendly show that distils 2000 years of County Durham History into an hour and a half. The visionaries are to be applauded for their bold confidence. So wrap up warm and head down to the farm.

Images: IMedia360 
This review was written by Stephen Oliver for Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

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In the first season of Kynren, there will be 14 shows running through the summer from 2 July to 17 September 2016. Each show has the capacity for 8,000 spectators, equating 112,000 visitors across the season. Ticket prices range from £25 - £55 (adults) and £19 - £41 (children aged 12 and under), depending on the category of seat.To book online go to

Performance date
Performance time
Saturday 2nd July
9.30pm – 11.00pm
Saturday 9th July
9.30pm – 11.00pm
Saturday 16th July
9.30pm – 11.00pm
Saturday 23rd July
9.30pm – 11.00pm
Friday 29th July
9.30pm – 11.00pm
Saturday 30th July
9.30pm – 11.00pm
Friday 12th August
9.30pm – 11.00pm
Saturday 13th August
9.30pm – 11.00pm
Saturday 20th August
9.00pm – 10.30pm
Saturday 27th August
8.30pm – 10.00pm
Sunday 28th August
8.30pm – 10.00pm
Saturday 3rd September
8.30pm – 10.00pm
Saturday 10th September
8.30pm – 10.00pm
Saturday 17th September
8.30pm – 10.00pm

Revenues from the 2016 season will fund the next. The organisers have already started on the planning of Kynren 2017. Once the 2016 season has concluded, they will start the process of recruiting additional volunteers and continue to develop the skills of their current team.


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