“The Brockley Jack can be enormously proud”
Some years ago, I did a bit on a film called ‘Stiff Upper Lips’. In the production was that great actor Brian Glover. We were put up in some swanky hotel, somewhere in Rome, where one night Brian and I shared a bottle of very good Italian red. He had led an extraordinary life. He was a professional wrestler with the stage name of ‘Leon Arras the man from Paris’. He was a wonderful raconteur and told me something of the making of the film ‘Kes’. He played Mr Sugden the sports master. Despite his bull head and roughness he was a modest and refined man. He said at the end of the evening, “‘Kes’ was probably the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m very proud of that. If I’m remembered for anything, being in ‘Kes’ is not a bad legacy”.
Kate Bannister, for the Brockley Jack, has done a fantastic job with this production of ‘Kes’.
Robert Alan Evan’s quite brilliant conceit is to have the young Billy Casper beside his older middle-aged self. The story is then told between the two actors. The young Billy (an enormously sensitive and robust Simon Stallard) plays just himself while his older self portrays everyone else (a superb turn from Rob Pomfret) including the promiscuous mother, brutal head teacher and the inimitable Mr Sugden, the games master.
The way the story is told has many wonderful moments. When Billy’s teacher says, ‘you think alot about that bird, don’t you?’ Billy replies, ‘Course I do. Wouldn’t you if it were yours?’ Not only is it a poignant statement of fact but it has another layer, because of course the Kestrel was once the older man’s as well.
Karl Swinyard’s set is ingenious. Within that small space he creates a complete world. It seems cluttered at first but everything on stage has a purpose.
The lighting design and sound of Ben Jacobs and Jack Barton are spot on. While the Costume designs of Martin Robinson evokes the very griminess of that mining community.
It really is a wonderful evening. As I’ve said the acting is exemplary as is the direction. The Brockley Jack can be enormously proud of this production.
The night I was in, a young lad sat in front of me utterly enthralled and entranced. I like to think that Brian Glover, wherever he is, would have had a tear in his eye at that.
Photographer: Timothy Stubbs Hughes.
KES by Barry Hines
Venue: Brockley Jack Studio Theatre, 410 Brockley Road, London, SE4 2DH
Box office: www.brockleyjack.co.uk or 0333 666 3366 (£1.50 fee for phone bookings only)
Dates: Wednesday 2 to Saturday 19 May 2018 at 7.30pm. (no performances Monday, Sunday)
Tickets: £16, £13 concessions (suitable for 11+)
Reviewer Richard Braine is actor, director and playwright.
As an Actor he has worked extensively throughout the country including Chichester Festival Theatre, Manchester Royal Exchange, Birmingham Rep, and Stephen Joseph Theatre in Yorkshire. His Television and Film credits include: “Calendar Girls”, “Pride, Prejudice and Zombies”, “Finding Neverland”, “Bridget Jones”, “Suspicions of Mr Whicher”, “Mr Selfridge” and many years ago Gussie Fink-Nottle in “Jeeves and Wooster”. He has also filmed over 150 Commercials all over the world.
He has directed the European premiere of Sternheim/Martin “The Underpants” at The Old Red Lion Theatre and written three plays: “Being There with Sellers”, “Bedding Clay Jones” and “Sexing Alan Titchmarsh”.