The struggles of the working class have of course been amplified since the recession hit, and the threat of a Tory government means they may well be amplified further, so it’s a healthy time for this stage adaptation of Barry Hines 1968 novel; a celebration of personal individuality and a condemnation of economic individualism.
The education system is not recognising individuality
Set in Barnsley, the story follows Billy (Stefan Butler), a young boy smothered by an abusive brother at home and an oppressively conformist school that will no doubt doom him to a career in the mines. He finds an outlet, though, in taking up falconry with a kestrel he happens upon, but will his harsh working class environment accommodate it?
Made immortal by Ken Loach’s film version, lead actor Butler feels the story is ready for the theatrical treatment: “Film is such a different medium because you can tell the audience what to watch and how to feel, with theatre you’ve got to ask the audience to use their imagination.” The story’s central theme is an attack on the totalitarian model of society that is school, as Butler points out: “The education system is not recognising individuality. You have to study science math and English and there’s no regard as to whether you’re good at that whatsoever. Individuality, on the whole, is not being explored at school and that really is what this play’s about.” In a society that would have you believe we all have a chance at becoming prime minister, this play should be an enjoyable reality check.