WHETHER it was from reading the book at school or watching the 1969 film, Kes has a special place in many people’s hearts.

It is therefore a brave choice to bring a new re-imagined version of the story of Billy Casper to the stage. But The Octagon has never shied away from a challenge and this version of Kes, in conjunction with Theatre by the Lake, is a worthy addition to the legacy

This is a moving, compelling, at times heart-breaking production and - as is the hallmark of any good work of theatre - will leave a lasting impression on you.

Simply and effectively staged, the cast of three will tug at your heart strings and play with your emotions.

Jake Dunn is Billy who suddenly finds beauty in his otherwise brutal existence when he finds a young kestrel and becomes its handler. For someone in his first professional role, Jake’s performance is remarkable switching from a childlike innocence to a world-weary despair in an instant.

Harry Egan plays a variety of roles from bullying brother, Billy’s conscience, shopkeeper, uncaring mum and a series of teachers - most memorably a psychotic PE teacher.

The compelling trio on stage is completed by Nishia Smith as the singer who embodies the spirit of Kes and has a voice that will melt your heart.

Although Billy is the focal point, every character is essentially trapped in their own bleak existence and we share in their despair.

Kes is a very physical piece of theatre with almost balletic-like choreography at times where not a single gesture is wasted. The subtle way Nishia Smith mimics the movements of the kestrel is a triumph.

This is a audacious and compelling reworking of a favourite and is a worthy production to grace the new-look Octagon but be warned, you will be moved.

Kes runs at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton, until April 2. Details from www.octagonbolton.co.uk. It then goes to the Theatre by the Lake from April 6 to 30. Details from theatrebythelake.com