Kes, 5*****,London


by Robert Alan Evans.

Based on the novel A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines.


The Brockley Jack Studio 410 Brockley Road, London SE4 2DH to 19 May 2018.

Tues-Sat 7.30pm.

Runs 60 mins No interval.

TICKETS: 0333 666 3366

Review: William Russell 4 May.

Flies straight to the heart

This beautifully crafted adaptation of Barry Hines’ novel by Robert Alan Evans gets a terrific production by director Kate Bannister played out against a superb background of sound. It is a two hander. As the unhappy teenager who rears a kestrel Simon Stallard catches all the teenage awkwardness and stroppiness of a boy abused by his idle mother, his bully boy brother and the teachers at his school. Playing all the other roles Rob Pomfret manages the transition from the sadistic head master to the friendly teacher, from the nasty shop owner where Billy does a paper round to his slag of a mother and all the other characters who people His story with amazing skill. It is by any standards that cliché of the theatre, a tour de force.

It really ought to be impossible to do without a kestrel, but this production shows it can be done. The lures Billy uses to attract the bird are deployed to stunning effect backed by that sound track, which is really complicated and demands a lot from the actors to play against. The result is that not seeing the kestrel doesn’t matter. One hears it.

Karl Swinyard has come up with a set which looks at first like a collection of pieces of furniture and a couple of platforms piled one on top of the other but works perfectly in evoking Billy’s world.

This is as good as it gets in the theatre anywhere – a fringe triumph in every sense.

Billy Casper: Simon Stallard.

The Man: Rob Pomfret.

Director: Kate Bannister.

Assistant Director: Laurel Marks.

Set Design: Karl Swinyard.

Costume Design: Martin Robinson.

Lighting Design: Ben Jacobs.

Sound Design: Jack Barton.

Fight Director: Keith Wallis.

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