Writer: Khaled Hosseini
Adaptor: Matthew Spangler
Director: Giles Croft
Reviewer: Abbie Rippon
Definitely one of the most moving pieces of theatre this season; The Kite Runner tugs at the heart strings from start to finish. The story which spans three decades and two continents explores the life of Amir, a character who is both involved in the drama as well as taking the part of reflective narrator leading the audience on a journey through his life growing up in Afghanistan, and his voyage into adulthood in the USA. But this story is about much more than that: friendship, betrayal and the horrors human being can inflict upon their fellow men.
The story is sensitively told; often when book is adapted into a film or play much of the imagery and essence of storytelling is lost as adapters place too much focus on the dialogue between the characters. Matthew Spangler’s text however uses Khaled Hosseini’s words perfectly to develop Amir’s story for the audience. It is told beautifully through a balance of narration and dialogue led sensitively by Ben Turner who plays Amir. Turner seamlessly switches between his rôle as Amir the storyteller to Amir the child, the teenager, the student, and so on, as he guides the audience through The Kite Runner’s story.
The ensemble cast are faultless, taking on numerous rôles between them and reflecting a great deal of truth in every one of their performances. As the story is told over a number of years many of the actors superbly demonstrate their characters developing through the aging process; none more so than Emilio Doorgasingh as the proud and stubborn Baba. However, the most endearing yet harrowing performance of the production is that of Andrei Costin as Amir’s child hood friend Hassan, and later as Amir’s nephew Sohrab.
Costin and Turner’s on stage relationship is devastating yet beautiful at the same time and to say their performances leaves many audience members tearful would be an understatement. The entire cast must be commended for their performances, Nicholas Karimi as the fearsome Assef, Antony Bunsee as the unassailable Taheri and Nicholas Khan as the dependable Rahim Khan are just a few of the performers that make this production impossible to look away from.
Adding to the faultless performances is the live sound produced by the cast but also by the on stage musician Hanif Khan creating a wonderful sense of atmosphere and working in harmony with the recorded sound. Barney George’s design also creates a beautiful sense of setting without crowding the stage or detracting from the story or performances. Projection is used superbly on swag curtains to change locations and a moment where a projected pomegranate tree grows which Amir and Hassan sit under to tell stories is a simply gorgeous moment of theatre design.
Despite being a long production (2 hours 50 minutes including an interval) this show is well worth the price of a ticket. The sadness of the story is relieved by moments of pure comedy and the striking performances and entrancing writing hold the audience’s attention right to the last minute. If you can get to the Liverpool Playhouse this week, get yourself a ticket and prepare yourself to be moved.
Runs until Saturday 13th September 2014 | Photo Robert Day