Never before have I seen so many excited tweets about one production. Kes really caught everyone’s imagination and left many in tears at the final curtain.
This production simply soars with powerful emotion which swoops down and grabs the audience.
It is a triumph for the theatre’s artistic director Sarah Brigham who is directing her first show since arriving in the city.
She has created a visually stunning production with great use of film projection, music and sound – and flawless performances from an amazing company of actors.
Sam Jackson in the starring role is incredible and a brilliant piece of casting by Brigham and her team. He is superbly talented and really submerged himself in the role of Billy Casper.
It was his final speech which made everyone reach for their tissues. I am sure we will be seeing a lot more of him on stage.
Thomas Pickles, who plays Tibbut, is another young man with a fantastic future ahead of him if his performance is anything to go by.
The Tibbut and the tadpoles scene was great theatre and it livened up the play in the longish school scene before we were introduced to Billy’s passion for his hawk.
Samantha Seager as Billy’s struggling mother and Jimmy Fairhurst as the bullying brother Jud are both strong in their roles and Nova Skipp was especially entertaining in her four cameos.
There are also many fantastic performances from the Young Company – twenty-seven 11-17-year-olds who are split into three groups during the run of the show.
The play is adapted by Lawrence Till from Barry Hines’ classic novel A Kestrel for a Knave, about a boy who does not fit into either the regimented education system or the expectations of his working class upbringing but who has a special talent – he has trained a kestrel he found and cares for in his shed at home.
Set in Barnsley, it was chosen for Derby Theatre by Brigham partly because she felt that the city and county as a whole shared the same mining history.
Even though it is from the 1960s it is still very much a story for our times she says.
The designer is Barney George, composer and sound designer, Ivan Stott, lighting designer, Tim Skelly, projection designer William Simpson, fight director Ian Stapleton and casting director Kay Magson.
The play can be seen until October 5. Go to http://www.derbytheatre.co.uk for ticket details.