Monday, 28 August 2017


I enjoyed Kynren (Anglo Saxon for "family"). As a piece of entertainment, it was certainly entertaining. It just also left me feeling rather unsettled.

I can sum up the whole event as Liberace meets Leni Riefenstahl. For those unfamiliar with her, Leni Riefenstahl was the German film director who created the masterful piece of Nazi propaganda, "Triumph of the Will". Glamourising and creating real the poisonous myths of the Third Reich, Riefenstahl's film is still studied in film schools around the world, and after being put on trial at the end of the war she never really found work again.

Kynren isn't going to get any of the creators tried as war criminals, but it is in the same vein of creating real the myths of England, and its self described "story of us". There was very little history in Kynren, but an awful lot of myths, and colourful, well choreographed dance routines that looked a bit like the mass games of North Korea on a smaller scale: anything that manages to include fictions like King Arthur and the Holy Grail and the WW1 Christmas football-match-that-never-was should be treated with about the same degree of scepticism as any propaganda from that country.

The ninety minute show ended with the outbreak of World War Two, and searchlights stabbing the sky as air raid warning sirens sounded. That's where we left the story of England, with a giant image of Winston Churchill projected onto the scenery and his "thousand years" speech booming over the audience. Apparently nothing happened worthy of inclusion since the UK's mighty victory in WWII. And in that sense, Kynren is perfect Brexiteer fodder.

After Churchill faded away the entire cast came on for a curtain call, with Queen Elizabeth the First surrounded by a diverse assortment from British history, and the audience waving their Union Jacks (purchased from the stalls outside, cash not accepted).

This isn't to say that I didn't enjoy it. It's an amazing spectacle, with possibly the best trained flock of sheep in showbiz. It is all the more impressive because it is staged entirely by volunteers, with the funds from ticket sales apparently going directly back into maintaining the production. Apparently the event is doing good work revitalising the local communities, something much needed in the economically depressed area. Ultimately though, the whole thing left me feeling slightly in need of a shower and a history book.