Poignant adaptation of the grim Northern English fable
This sensitive stage version of Barry Hines’ award-winning book opens with utter chaos on stage. Tables lie on their sides, a sofa is upturned, and remnants of 1970s life are strewn amongst them. The central conceit of the adaptation is that a grown-up Billy Casper has returned to observe his 15-year-old self. It’s all just a memory, which is why the house is in such a jumble. But of course, it also works wonderfully as a metaphor for Billy’s entire existence.
Bullied by his brother, neglected by his mother and thrashed by his egomaniacal headteacher, Billy has a giant hole in his life where love, hope and security should be. Until, that is, he finds a baby kestrel in a nest and slowly learns to train and care for it, ploughing all his hitherto unused love into this small, feathery friend.
Actors Sean Murray and James Anthony Pearson have their work cut out, sustaining 70 minutes of non-stop action on their own. But Pearson’s rendition of the troubled teenager is poignancy itself, while Murray switches from mum to brother to sports coach to shop keeper as if nothing is outside his range.
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Thu 29 Sep– Sat 1 Oct and on tour.