Review: Kes atCast, Doncaster
The much-loved story of a neglected South Yorkshire boy and his touching connection with a wild kestrel has been lovingly reimagined in this cracking production which celebrates Doncaster’s new arts venue in some style.
A large community ensemble is at the centre of the show, both entertaining the crowds outside when a live kestrel appears and forming a dance-based chorus to the action once it moves into the theatre.
The adaptation of Barry Hines’ novel, A Kestrel for a Knave, by directors Philip Osment and Kully Thiarai brings out the book’s poetry.
Ray Castleton, playing an older Billy looking back on his teenage years, further blurs the lines between theatre and community when he invites a young lad, Josh, who doesn’t have a ticket, on stage and starts to tell him his story.
All the comic scenes familiar from the Ken Loach film are there – the little lad accidentally caned by the head because the big boys make him hide their cigarettes when he’s only brought a message and the bullying sports teacher who pretends he’s Bobby Charlton and cheats his way through a football match. The main teacher roles are brilliantly played by Jim Pope and all the boredom and brutality of school in those days is created too accurately for comfort!
Jacob James Beswick is spot on as Billy, the loner and dreamer who finds solace and pride in a
bleak life through his care for Kes.
Sally Carman is fantastic as his tough, tarty mum just trying to survive in the world and Ben Burman is all too believable as Billy’s bullying big brother, Jud.
The action is facilitated by an incredibly slick, clever stage set.
This show finishes on Saturday.