Review: The Kite Runner
Image: Playhouse Theatre
David Ahmad - Amir
Andrei Costin - Hassan/Sohrab
Ravi Aujla - General Taheri/Raymond Andrews
Umar Pasha - Kamal/Zaman
Jay Sajjid - Wali/Doctor
Karl Seth - Rahim Khan/Dr Schneider/Omar Faisil
Emilio Doorgasingh - Baba
Lisa Zahra - Soraya/Mrs Nguyen
Ezra Faroque Khan - Ali/Farid
Bhavin Bhatt - Assef
Hanif Khan - Musician
Oliver Gyani - Ensemble
Danielle Woodnutt - Ensemble
(All other characters played by members of the company.)
A haunting tale of friendship which spans cultures and continents, it follows one man's journey to confront his past and find redemption.
"There is a way to be good again".
Afghanistan is a divided country on the verge of war and two childhood friends are about to be torn apart.
It's a beautiful afternoon in Kabul and the skies are full of the excitement and joy of a kite flying tournament.
But neither Hassan or Amir can foresee the terrible incident which will shatter their lives forever.
Based on Khaled Hosseini's international best-selling novel, this powerful story has now been adapted into a stunning new stage production.
Having mesmerized audiences across the country and at Wyndham's Theatre, the play returns for a limited West End run.
What makes a great show?
Well, if everyone knew the answer to that we'd all be theatre or, maybe, film producers and dining nightly at the Ritz and bathing in champagne, possibly.
Though we may not have the exact magic recipe for creating a sure-fire hit show, one thing is certainly a pretty crucial ingredient - the story.
And stories don't come much better than this one, originally written by
Khaled Hosseini in his novel of the same name, and here brilliantly adapted by Matthew Spangler to remain faithful to the original but bringing a rarely achieved clarity to a stage story.
It is this clarity in the storytelling which, probably more than anything else, makes it a great one.
I've seldom encountered a drama where the elements - plot, characters and their motivations - are all described with such lucid efficiency.
But don't confuse clarity with simplicity - this story is neither simple nor simplistic.
There are many complicated interactions and plot developments here, yet it contains a number of key elements and issues which we can all understand and relate to such as father and son relationships, loyalty, guilt, friendship and much more besides, all combined in an ethos of ethnic and religious conflict.
The tale focuses on Amir, played by David Ahmad, who narrates the story for us throughout, and we follow his life from childhood in Afghanistan to adulthood in the USA.
It starts in Afghanistan during the relative tranquility of the 1970s, where Amir is the young son of a wealthy man.
Amir is best friends with Hassan (Andrei Costin) - the son of his father's servant - and, like other boys in Kabul, they are inveterate kite flyers.
Though Amir has much more in terms of material wealth than Hassan, he yearns for love and recognition from his father, Baba, and when he sees his parent seemingly favour Hassan, his jealousy leads to his friend being the innocent victim of a brutal event.
Amir's guilt about his friend's suffering causes a rift to develop between the two childhood chums, even though Hassan remains unwaveringly loyal to Amir.
Years later, when Amir is living in the USA, he is offered a chance for redemption by helping Hassan's son.
Director Giles Croft sensibly employs a relatively light, but immensely sensitive touch, eschewing any compulsion to unnecessarily embellish or clutter the proceedings.
That means Barney George's design is economical but astutely subtle, more than sufficient to provide appropriately evocative settings without being intrusive, and the atmosphere is enhanced with some stunning tabla playing from Hanif Khan.
David Ahmad provides totally authentic and unswerving honesty in bringing his character's story and personality to life - almost heartbreakingly honest at times given the nature of some of the events we learn about.
His efforts are amply bolstered by a fine cast providing well-defined yet somewhat understated characters whose personalities and actions always seems genuine and totally human, even when some cultural aspects of the story are unfamiliar to us.
Pointing-up discomfiting human foibles, some will undoubtedly find unsettling notes here, but this play is, nonetheless, enthralling, emotionally-charged and unmissable storytelling at its singular best.
Links and related content
ActDrop listing for Playhouse Theatre
Our show listing for The Kite Runner
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