By Steve Cooke
First released as a novel in 1968, KES was then adapted for the big screen in Ken Loach’s acclaimed drama the following year. The stage version at the Octagon promises an intimate and highly theatrical exploration of this moving and much-loved story.
Set in a 1960s working-class Yorkshire mining town, Kes depicts the struggles of 15-year- old Billy Casper. Bullied and neglected, life isn’t easy for Billy, but when he finds Kes – a kestrel hawk who he cares for and trains, it gives Billy a passion and freedom that has been missing throughout his life.
Jake Dunn will make his professional stage debut playing the role of troubled teenager Billy Casper. The cast also features Harry Egan (Blackthorn, Leeds Playhouse and the UK tour of Selladoor’s Of Mice and Men) as The Man and jazz singer Nishla Smith – whose debut album Friends with Monsters was released in 2021, who plays The Singer.
The creative team includes set and costume design by Anisha Fields, lighting design by Jamie Platt, sound design and composition by Alexandra Faye Braithwaite, movement direction by Jennifer Jackson, dialect coaching by Natalie Grady and assistant direction by Eilidh Gibson.
Octagon Theatre Bolton Thu 10 March – Sat 2 April