Sunday 16th March 2014

The Wyvern Theatre, Swindon

The Wyvern Theatre, Swindon

Last night I was at the Wyvern Theatre for the first time in ages to see Blood  Brothers. Now to be honest, I saw Blood Brothers in London many years ago so wouldn’t have rushed to see it again if were not for the fact that the narrator, played by Kristofer Harding, is a close friend of my daughter’s – so naturally we go and see him whenever we can. We saw him as Rusty in  Starlight Express and as Roger in Grease and last night it was to see him as the narrator in Blood Brothers – and of course he’s amazing in everything! Natural bias aside there is no doubting his talent. He has a great voice and can really act too. I know this because in his performance as the narrator in BB in his ‘Men in Black’ suit he exuded a palpable air of menace. Whereas in real life – well he’s anything but menacing.

Kristofer hails from Hungerford – and started out his dramatic career in the Hungerford Theatre company. As is only fitting they are very proud of this son of Hungerford and have some nice information about him on the ‘success stories’ section of their website.

None of which is to say that this production of Blood Brothers wasn’t excellent because it was. Written by Willy Russell, Blood Brothers is a sad and tragic tale of fraternal twins, one kept and one given away, and the class divide. First performed 30 years ago, it’s a poignant tale of redundancy, depression and life on the dole and the ‘never-never’ which worryingly still resonates today. You could easily be forgiven for thinking that this is a contemporary piece of work not something written over half a century ago. I think it might be even more upsetting and depressing than Les Miserables, which given the name of that one, is going some! But nevertheless it is an excellent, albeit gritty, musical and the cast of this particular production were very good indeed. So very well done to all at the Wyvern for yet another excellent production.

All of which leads me to reflect, not for the first time, what a fabulous venue the Wyvern theatre is and how very lucky we are in Swindon to have it. It is so well designed that there really is not a bad seat in the place and the acoustics in it are excellent.  Some time ago I used to do volunteer ushering there which I loved – I got to see some great productions. It was a really cool scheme actually.

This lovely gem of a  theatre is named after the mythical wyvern which was once the emblem of the kings of Wessex. It was opened on 7 September 1971 by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

It features: ‘…  635 seats and every seat is designed to be no further than 70ft from the stage. The venue offers a mixed programme of concerts, comedy, dance, drama, musical theatre and local amateur productions. The Wyvern Theatre has a vibrant team of 30 staff members and an additional 30 front of house members.’ Like I said, there really isn’t a bad seat in the place.

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