Direct from London’s West End, the adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s international best-selling novel The Kite Runner is currently embarking on a UK Tour. US playwright Matthew Spangler’s adaptation is not flashy and does a brilliant job in getting the story out there in two and half hours. Director Giles Croft has produced a crisp piece that moves with great pace, yet remains stripped back and restrained, it’s only constant and ornament is the continual presence of tabla player Hanif Khan. His authentic soundscape emphasises the story and it’s many twists and turns. The addition of the ensemble and a soundtrack in areas was effective and helped to move the story through.
The story is a haunting and powerful tale of a friendship which stretches over cultures and continents in a stunning stage production. Set in Afghanistan, a country divided and on the verge of war, two childhood friends face being torn apart. A beautiful afternoon in Kabul, with the skies full of excitement and joy at a kite flying tournament soon becomes an afternoon that neither Hassan or Amir can foresee becoming a day that is etched on both of their memories forever. An incident that shatters both their friendships and their lives forever.
Amir (David Ahmad) leads the cast as both the narrator and Amir, throughout the production he transitions between these two roles with ease. From becoming the young Amir, full of play and passion towards his interest in creative writing, to the man who is haunted by one afternoon in Kabul. He is undoubtedly the main thread of the production and expertly draws you into the events of the story. Watching the character of Hassan/Sohrab (Andrei Costin) bring the audience into his timid and obeying character is a solid display of characterisation. Playing a boy who says very little is tough but you’ll see that what he doesn’t say he makes up for in his physicality. It’s hard not to be moved by his own difficult story of how he’s betrayed by the one person he calls “the best friend he has ever had”.
The supporting cast multirole, shifting into various characters who are impacted by or set down the foundations of both the events before, during and after. Performances from Ravi Ajula, Emilio Doorgasingh and Bhavin Bhatt to name a few are some of the most emotive, powerful acting presences I have seen on this stage in a while. The production is compassionate towards the topic of asylum seekers and Afghanistan history, providing a great essence of education too. The only real downfall in the entire production is the tempo of the second act, it lacks an engaging quality prevalent in the first act. Although convinced the story would move me to tears, I instead felt the hairs on my arms stand on end as the piece builds and the entire cast fill the stage, each bringing a instrument until a switch brings us into darkness. The Kite Runner is must-see, especially if you’re a fan of the much loved novel! - Emmie-Hope Newitt