I was not able to catch The Kite Runner on its West End Run so I was excited when MT bought me tickets to see the production at The Birmingham Rep.
I nearly missed out again after convincing myself that we had tickets to the evening performance. It was 1:20 p.m. before we realised we had tickets to the matinee. After my sudden panic and dash to the wardrobe, we rushed our way to the Birmingham Rep. We were determined not to miss it for a second time.
The Kite Runner received its world premier in 2009 at the San Jose Repertory Theatre. It went on to have its European premier at the Nottingham Playhouse in 2013 before having its first performance at the Wyndham in December 2016.
Based on Khaled Hosseini’s international best-selling novel, The Kite Runner has been adapted to the stage by Matthew Spangler. Set in Afghanistan, a divided country, The Kite Runner tells the story of two childhood friends Amir and Hassan. Their friendship is torn apart after a horrific incident takes place on the afternoon of the kite flying tournament. Narrated by Amir, it is a story of his confrontation with his past and his attempt at finding redemption.
I haven’t read the book or watched the film. I own both but made the conscious decision to watch the stage adaptation first. I was going into this story with a fresh mind, unaware of any of the plots twists and turns.
We made it to the Rep with a few minutes to spare – I’m still not quite sure how we managed it! I think my theatre spirit guide was on my side that day. As we entered the theatre the enchanting sounds of accomplished musician Hanif Khan welcomed us. Hanif accompanied the performance in both acts, moving to both sides of the stage. I enjoyed watching his innate musicality as he moved to our side of the stage in the second act.
Some critics have criticised the stage adaptation as being reduced to a set of chronological events, but I disagree. To those that have not read the book or watched the film, I felt that the production moved with fluidity and I could follow the story without any confusion. I may have otherwise struggled without this detailed timeline.
Giles Croft directs a powerful and emotive production. It was obvious that this cast were experienced at telling this story and what a fantastic cast they were. Raj Ghatak was magnificent in the demanding role of Amir. I listened to his every word, I felt his guilt, shame and I felt his desperation for forgiveness.
Sitting in row B, I could see every facial expression with great clarity. Jo Ben Ayed and his flawless acting ability captured the true nature of Hassan. Every wince, frown and smile were felt by the audience.
Soroosh Lavasini, who played the sociopath Assef, captured the intensity of the character. At one point he caught my eye and I felt his intimidating presence. I applaud Soroosh for successfully manifesting the qualities of this complicated character and for portraying them to the audience with such definition.
From set design to movement, both the creative and production teams have created a beautifully crafted production that churns the emotions of the audience.
I cried a few times during this production, the story, acting, design and music combined made it impossible for me to not be drawn into this tragic world. If a play makes me “feel something” then I feel it is achieving what it has set out to do and I get a rewarding experience as an audience member.
The Kite Runner was an outstanding piece of theatre and now ranks highly as one of the best plays we have seen. I for one am glad that I didn’t miss it for a second time.
The Kite Runner is currently on a UK tour. For more information and dates visit The Kite Runner website.
Theatretastic rating 5/5:
We say: “An outstanding production that is powerful, emotive and heart breaking. The Kite Runner leaves an impression that will stay with you long after you have left the auditorium. A must see!”