That evening we headed over to the Kynren site. The seating area, known as the ‘Tribune’ is about a 10/15 minute walk from the carpark, but it was very clear all the way down and quite a lovely view. We’d been advised to wear comfortable shoes and warm clothing, and so found the walk quite pleasant!
The volunteers on the site were absolutely amazing. All of them had such lovely welcoming attitudes, actively trying to be helpful, which is definitely not always the case with events like this! They’d obviously been very well trained, and enjoyed being a part of the Kynren process – it definitely added to the experience for us.
The Tribune was a large wooden grandstand, and outside were a great selection of food and drink vans and bars. The atmosphere was great, everyone seemed to be a little bit buzzy waiting for the show to start, and Mr H and I definitely enjoyed taking a step back and doing some quality people watching! We went through to our seats about 40 minutes before the show started.
Unfortunately, this is where things started to go a little wrong. I’d paid for swanky cushioned seats, and the view was excellent as we were really central. The seats themselves, however, were all jammed in next to each other, so I was practically cuddling Mr H *and* the random gent on the other side of me. This might have been ok for a short show, but having gotten into our seats early, it was Squishville for over 2 hours, which was uncomfortable to say the least!
I couldn’t take any images of the show, and I will try and avoid spoilers, although can you spoil a show about the history of Britain, considering it’s already happened? I digress.
I will say a couple of things though. The show was visually stunning, in fact I don’t think I’ve seen anything so impressive in live performance – ever. They made full use of the landscape in which they were set, as well as the lake, and lots of technology.
There were, however, some parts of the show that I was hugely disappointed with. All the audio was pre-recorded. All of it. There was no live audio in the show at all. I can almost understand why they did this, being an outdoor show in England, but it was hugely disappointing and I felt like it almost encouraged the performers to mime more. Their physical performance became a little over-egged to match the audio, rather than them being extensions of one another.
The show touches on events of historical importance, such as the mass migration of Asian people to the area. This was represented in the show by Bhangra dancers, but it was disappointing to see that these were obviously not trained Bhangra dancers, and in most cases from what I could see, weren’t actually Asian people. I think it’s a sensitive topic but I thought it was odd – sure in the huge area that is the North East there is at least one Bhangra dancing group? It would have been more effective, more impressive and driven the point home more about the diversity of the area if the performers had been more diverse.
The other disappointing element was the Colliery band. They mimed. It was obvious. So instead of following the story I was thinking “Why are they miming?” and cringing. I don’t think I need to say much more than that!
Overall, the show was good fun, and as I’ve said, it was visually spectacular. I’m not sure though, that it was really worth it considering the distance we drove. If it was in Kent, I think I would recommend it, but if you’re not in the North East I think you will be disappointed. They very nearly got it right, but for me as a theatre-lover, the small things they got wrong added up to a night that was just a bit off target.
Our evening went fully pear-shaped after that, as our taxi driver didn’t wait for us and we ended up having to wait for nearly 2 hours to get back to the hotel! Luckily the ladies we ended up sharing with were so hilariously drunk that it took my mind off it!
We did have a lovely weekend all in all though, and it was great to see some more of the country. I’d like to spend some more time up North, and even head out to Beamish Museum, which we heard great things about but ran out of time for.
Have you seen Kynren? What did you think?