King Athelstan’s Story Re-Imagined in the Musical Play ‘Athelstan – A United Kingdom!’

A group of talented creatives are bringing the story of King Athelstan to life as part of the summer celebrations to mark 1100 years since he became the First King of England.

An original play ‘Athelstan: A United Kingdom!’ will be staged for the first time in Malmesbury Abbey in July to entertain and delight an audience who will be standing and will interact with the performers.

Written and produced by Alan Nixon and Paul Overton and directed by Andy Duncan, ‘Athelstan: A United Kingdom!’ is a 50 minute production which will tell the story of Athelstan through the eyes of William of Malmesbury, the 12th century historian and poet who’s legacy provides some information about Athelstan.

Paul said: “We are not telling this story as an historian would. While we know some things about Athelstan there’s much we don’t know.  Alan and I wanted to create a production which is entertaining, fun and engaging while covering some of the main events that we know Athelstan was involved with.

“We’ve tried to create a performance with a ‘feel’ of Horrible Histories and the York Mystery Plays. For example we know that Athelstan overcame opposition to his claim to the throne so to illustrate that we’ve based a sequence on the BBC TV show Gladiators where ‘Eureka Johnson’ will lead the charge as Athelstan takes on his rivals from history including Owain and Constantine.”

Alan, a former script-writer and producer with Radio 4 and Paul, who is a former headteacher with a love of writing, have been working tirelessly with a cast and crew to create a production which will debut in the Abbey on Saturday July 13 at 4pm. There are four performances in total across the weekend and tickets are free but must be registered as numbers are limited.

Community involvement in this production has been vital to its success. Athelstan will be played by local actor Robert Naylor-Stables with William of Malmesbury being played by John O’Brien. Young people who are students of Malmesbury School are also taking part as part of the choir. Choreography for some scenes has been created by Lizzi Kew-Ross. Even Athelstan’s crown has been made by Wiltshire blacksmith Isaac Owen.

Alan said: “The tireless enthusiasm of actors, musicians and singers will guarantee a performance to be remembered and we cannot thank enough all those who have given so freely of their time and energy.”

For more information and to book tickets visit

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