DramaNorth East & YorkshireReview

The Kite Runner – West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds

Writer: Khaled Hosseini

Adaptation: Matthew Spangler

Director: Giles Croft

Reviewer: Dawn Smallwood

Just before the performance begins, the audience is greeted with percussion sounds of the taba and the atmospheric staging for The Kite Runner.   The play is based on Khaled Hosseini’s bestselling novel with adaptation from Matthew Spangler.  The Kite Runner had its world premiere in 2009 in the United States and now returns on tour after a successful run in London’s West End.

The story is about two boys, Amir (David Ahmad) and Hassan (Jo Ben Ayed), childhood friends in Afghanistan who they share a passion for kite flying, a popular pastime for Afghan children.  It is set in the 1970s when the country was relatively at peace and a popular stopover for overland travelers en route to India from Europe.  The peace didn’t last when King Zahir Shah was overthrown by a coup in 1973 after a 40-year reign, and the clashes of cultural, religious and political beliefs and its ideologies intensified, as is still the case today. 

Amir (Ahmad) chronically narrates the story from the beginning when he grew up in Kabul, his friendship with Hassan, his estranged relationship with his father, Baba (Emilio Doorgasingh) and his eventual emigration to San Francisco and his marriage to Soraya (Amiera Darwish).  The country’s instability and tensions, particularly their ethnicities, tests Amir and Hassan’s friendship, resulting in their tragic parting of ways.

The Kite Runner is well researched and packed with stories and raises various themes including the obvious along with social class and economics differences.   This production offers the audience an insight to Afghanistan’s complex and unique kaleidoscope of cultures and traditions and how the country is considered strategically in Central Asia, whether positively or negatively.

Hosseini certainly has an authorial presence in the The Kite Runner; it offers the opportunity for one to see his country of birth from a different perspective and not to judge Amir’s torment of guilt, seeking redemption when he pursues to make peace with Hassan, even risking his life.

The play is visually excellent from beginning to end with Barney George’s incredible staging, Charles Balfour’s subtle lighting and Drew Bauhomi’s acoustic soundscapes. The percussion music played by Hanif Kahn ensures the authenticity of The Kite Runner’s themes and settings.

This is a very moving play, with honest emotions raised from the themes, while the cast successfully portrays the characters with integrity under the direction of Giles Croft.  Ahmed’s portrayal as Amir is excellent from an innocent child to a guilt ridden tormented adult.  The Kite Runner is certainly an enjoyable and recommendable production.

Runs until 23 September 2017 | Image: Contributed 

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Mark Clegg. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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