Kes started the moment you took your seat. Before the ‘official’ start, what the audience thought to be one character sleeping in bed was centre stage. From the revelation that there were two individuals sleeping in the single bed, Kes was a series of unexpected events.
The performance took a while to warm up to. The audience had to get used to the quirky nature and surprisingly strong northern accents throughout; the brashness of the characters was perhaps slightly unnerving for those of us that didn’t know the outline of the play. However, the initial awkwardness disappeared quickly as the story unravelled.
Being introduced into the life of Billy Caspar, the play’s protagonist, reminded the audience of the cruelty that could come from peer bullying. Not to mention that Billy’s home life was not much of an improvement, with a mother of questionable reputation and volatile elder brother. Instead, Billy finds an escape from his life through the kestrel he owns. A performance of emotional swings and roundabouts ensues as Billy navigates his surroundings.
The highlight of the evening was certainly the work of the lead role, Will Hughes. Playing Billy Caspar in several monologue style scenes, Hughes clearly proved why he was chosen for the part. His energy levels never depleted, instead, scene after scene, he produced an emotional act which ensured the success of the play. Alongside Hughes was an excellent cast known to the university’s theatre company. The casting of the mother was good choice for she carried the part well, however, this was let down by her vocal performance as her northern accent was not as convincing as the rest of the cast.
Overall the play offered a change from the typical happy ending. Billy’s relationship with his kestrel takes a turn for the worse and he ends up in exactly the position he wanted to avoid. Even though the play did not take on a traditional structure, this is part of what made it special, and overall, an excellent production.
With thanks to Sami Russell-Stracey for the kes publicity image.