Kes Crucible Theatre Sheffield Review

Crucible Theatre, Sheffield

27 March to 5 April 2014


Reviewed by Becky Linsell

Set in Barnsley, Barry Hines’ Kes, is one of Yorkshires most acclaimed stories. This powerful dance-theatre adaption of the well known story is also part of the exciting Yorkshire Festival 2014, which is celebrating 100 days of world class music, dance, theatre, sculpture and art.

I still remember now watching the film Kes as a child, the story set in the 1960’s centring around Billy Casper who lived in the Barnsley coal mining community, affected by his father leaving the family, bullied by his brother Jed, having no support or real love shown by his mother and school life was pretty tough. Billy found friendship with a kestrel, he learnt to train it and learnt to love it, which gave him a purpose in life and from that he learnt how to communicate.

I will be totally honest before I watched this show, I was not entirely sure how effectively a dance-theatre production could capture the essence of the story that made such an impression on me as a youngster. How wrong I was.

This show brings together drama, dance and puppetry. It is faithful to the original story and brings a unique take on this Yorkshire favourite. It is a moving performance which has a real edge to it. Young local dancers have been cast in the roles of the school children and perform alongside the professional dancers, which gives some realism to the school environment. A clever choice by director Jonathan Watkins, who himself is Barnsley born.

The stage and lighting set is simple and effective, used in a way that the sets are moved by the dancers in their routines but you understand the scenes very clearly, the chippy, the classroom, home, in the fields, the betting shop. The music accompanies the production beautifully, written by Alex Baranowski. The choreography is powerful and I love how it tells the story of Kes.

I found the second act of this show was really emotional. You could really feel the anger, the pain and sadness in the dancers’ performances. All of the dancers were good but, for me Chester Hayes (Billy) and Tom Jackson Greaves (Jud) were exceptional.

There are so many great scenes in this production, Billy training the kestral, his talk in his English class, even Jed’s dreadful act of revenge, however, my favourite has to be the P.E. lesson. It is a charming scene, of the school children playing football in their P.E. lesson in which I loved the dancing. It captures very accurately the P.E. teacher who thinks that he is a professional footballer, bringing comedy to this production.

The reaction of tonight’s audience was telling as to how well the performance was received, with huge applause and cheers. I really enjoyed this performance and urge you to go and see it. I am sure you will not be disappointed by this dance-theatre interpretation of the Yorkshire classic.

Rating: 5/5

It is showing at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield from 27 March – 5 April 2014. Tickets are priced between £10-£21 although a booking fee may apply.

For more infomation or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0114 249 6000.

Crucible Theatre, 55 Norfolk Street, Sheffield, S1 1DA | 0114 249 6000


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