‘Kes’, based on the novel ‘A Kestrel for a Knave’ is a vivid depiction of working class life, seen through the eyes of the reclusive Billy Casper. Burdened with an abusive brother, an absent father, and an indifferent mother, Billy finds solace in nurturing and training a female kestrel: Kes.
?An actor swoops and dances, engaging in the lively mimicry of a bird. Yet he wears the same outfit as Billy Casper – his motions are frequently very human. Till makes no effort to shroud the symbolism of the Kestrel. The connection between Casper and the Bird is the connection of the lowly knave to the liberated kestrel.
?In Director Lawrence Till’s highly polished production his lively street scenes bustle as actors cross the stage in a brilliantly choreographed routine. Reminiscent of my own childhood there, Till’s masterful representation of Barnsley life increased my sympathy for the harsh conditions inherent to that time.
?Light and sound transformed the simple premise into a spectacle that fully engaged the audience. I particularly liked how tracks like ‘Mrs Robinson’ would facilitate the transitions between scenes. With the appearance of a light this sound would muffle, to be ingeniously reformed as a diegetic device – perhaps as a radio or cinema speakers. ??All in all I was impressed. The actors, although young, performed with maturity and experience, whilst the occasional comedic moment stopped the script from becoming stale. Occasionally, the performance became slow paced, but the seamless shift of scenery meant that the plot moved smoothly along. ??Barry Hines, the author of ‘Kes’ was a socialist whose intent was to highlight the hardness and danger of working class life. This adaptation rings true to that philosophy – guaranteed to educate if not to entertain.
By Chris Walker