William Hunter history brought vibrantly to life in Brentwood

History came to life on the streets of Brentwood on Friday and Saturday for the first time.

Audiences, including intrigued shoppers and passers-by, were treated to a performance about the life story of William Hunter, the 19-year-old who was burnt at the stake for offending the church in 1555.

Dot Productions put on the free performance, funded by the Brentwood Renaissance group, which played out twice on Friday and twice on Saturday.

Directory Penelope Lambton, who also played William’s mother in the show, said: “We thought it went really well, the audiences were very responsive.”

Some of those responsive members even got to join in with the fun too, as the Bishop Bonner rounded them up to be tried as martyrs alongside William and marched along the High Street from the Chapel Ruins to Shenfield Common.


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Penelope added: “It’s quite different because with a stage performance you’re given text and you read it and learn it. With street theatre you have to be much more responsive, people don’t always stand where you expect them to for example.”

Audiences were left to judge for themselves whether William was brave, stubborn or misguided, and if his brother Robert was a coward for not sticking to his beliefs too.

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On Friday pupils from Larchwood Primary School, Pilgrims Hatch, and St Helen’s Junior Academy, Sawyers Hall Lane, watched the tale. On Saturday two public groups saw the history unfold.

Harvey Kail, 61, who travelled from Ilford to watch the show on Saturday afternoon, said: “It was really interesting, like a London walk that you have to pay for, but better with the acting too.”

Brentwood Theatre administrator Mark Reed said he hopes similar historical performances could take place in future, and ideas for future shows are already being floated.

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