Click here!


Theatre Review: Kes ***

Joy Watters reviews a production of a modern classic.

It is fifty years since the film of Kes was first screened. Adapted from Barry Hines’ book A Kestrel For a Knave, it is the story of young Billy Casper. Oppressed and abused by all, his only escape is to look skywards where the kestrel he has trained soars, taking his spirits with it.

Over the half century it has become a classic in both forms. Set against the rapidly vanishing coal mines of Yorkshire, Billy stumbles along hopelessly, bullied at home and school.

Robert Alan Evans adapted Kes for the stage, first staged in 2011, with a cast of just two, and now Perth Theatre has revived it for the intimate surroundings of the Joan Knight Studio. Lu Kemp’s assured production is characterised by austerity in the picture of life that unfolds.

The stage is piled up with the various aspects of Billy’s existence, home, school, the pithead, the great outdoors in Kenneth MacLeod’s design. Scene upon scene of young misery layer up too until Billy finds and trains a kestrel and finds happiness.

Danny Hughes beautifully encapsulates the changing emotions of young Billy, particularly the sense that his escape from the daily grind is only transitory.

Evans’ stage adaptation has only two actors and a one hour running time which makes for an over-compacted feeling to the work. Matthew Barker is tasked to play everyone else in Billy’s life: teachers, family and older self. While he rapidly presents a series of convincing performances, there is little chance for more delineation of the characters to clarify their roles and strengthen the play’s themes.

Matt Padden’s soundscape perfectly underpins the mood from start to finish.

Run at Perth Theatre complete.

Tags: theatre

Comments: 0 (Add)

To post a comment, you need to sign in or register. Forgotten password? Click here.

Find a show

Search the site

Find us on …

Find us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterFind us on YouTube