BARRY Hines, born into a South Yorkshire mining family, wrote of impoverished working-class lives for more than 40 years. He died on March 16 this year, bringing poignancy to the West Yorkshire Playhouse staging of his best-known story, 1968's A Kestrel For A Knave.

Ken Loach, still winning awards at Cannes in 2016 for his films of social conscience and compassion, adapted the book for the screen in 1969, since when the images of David Bradley's scruff of a lad, Billy, and Brian Glover as the football coach that surely inspired Brian Clough, have become part of the iconic imagery of Yorkshire far beyond the Broad Acres.

The Playhouse production is in the hands of writer Robert Allan Evans and director Amy Leach, who combined previously for The Night Before Christmas, a show with more grit and sadness than you might have expected for that season, to complement the wonderment.

Kes has grit, sadness and, however temporary, wonderment too in schoolboy Billy's relationship with Kes, the kestrel he finds, feeds and nurtures, in a story pared back to a 70-minute two-hander with Dan Parr as Billy and Jack Lord as Man, a role of many parts: Billy's bullying brother; his wild, neglectful mother; his relentlessly cruel headmaster; and the football coach.

York Press:

Jack Lord in Kes. Picture: Anthony Robling

Most crucially, he plays Billy's worn, enervated older self, a constant shadow, who provides the narration to bring alive memories of his harsh past, on finding the glove he had used to train Kes as he strove to break free from his isolation. Parr's Billy weaves in and out of these recollections, leaving him as the secondary, rather than primary, player in Evans's adaptation, affirming how Billy could never escape what lay in store, no matter the brief relief that the kestrel brought.

Max Johns's set design tells a doleful story too: at its centre is a wooden-slatted hill that rises to the Yorkshire skyline but equally it is the shape of a coal-pit slag heap: the life that awaits Billy. Around this is domestic, school and workplace detail: broken chairs, benches, dustbins, an old bike, hissing radios.

What of the bird? We never see even a feather or hear a cry, and nor is a puppet employed. Instead flight is represented by Billy spinning the lure and looking to the skies or Billy and Billy's shadow ducking and diving when Kes flies low. This is in keeping with the production's stripped-down scale, necessary for a show that will play in community centres and church halls, but it still creates a sense of awe at the power and spectacle of a bird of prey.

Kes flies anew in the year of Barry Hines's passing, but Leach's show is not a lyrical nostalgic tribute; it resonates with the cold winds still blowing through industrial Yorkshire.

Kes, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, until June 4, then on a community tour around West Yorkshire until June 18. Box office: 0113 213 7700 or