Kes by Lawrence Till - Review

Soaring Tale

How are they going to do the bird? This was the question on the lips of my colleagues when I told them I was going to see a stage production of Kes.

Based on the well-known novel by Barry Hines, and made famous by director Ken Loach back in 1969, Kes is the moving tale of a miner's son whose mundane life is transformed when he adopts an injured kestrel.

Billy Casper, played by Kieran Burke, is a disaffected 15-year-old living on a soulless Barnsley estate, who lives his life divided between this world and a world of his own. Billy is just weeks away from leaving school - a school that offers him nothing but playground fights and contempt from his teachers. Home is no better. His mum hardly notices him and he's bullied by his brother.

But then he finds a fledgling kestrel and for the first time in his life, feels his imagination gripped. With infinite patience - and a book on falconry nicked from a local bookstore - he starts to train the bird. There's no boy-and-his-pet sentimentality here : the relationship between Kes the bird and the puny taciturn Billy is one of kinship and full of wary respect, between two wild creatures. When Kes for the first time flies free and returns to Billy's wrist, the sense of exhilaration is overwhelming.

Adapted by Lawrence Till and directed by Clair Polkey, this New Venture Theatre Youth Production is beautifully orchestrated and well worth seeing - then you'll find out how they did the bird.

Seonai Gordon - Argus 10th May 2001