The Kite Runner
(Image taken from http://www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk)
Percussion music, played by Hanif Khan, welcomes the audience to their seats and their senses are invited for a fusion of history and culture which is unfamiliar to them. The drums set the mood for The Kite Runner.
Khaled Hosseini’s best selling novel has been adapted on stage by Matthew Spangler. The European Premiere is currently touring round the country starring Casualty's star, Ben Turner, as Amir. The story is about two childhood friends, Amir and Hassan (played by Andrei Costin) who share a passion for kite flying, a popular hobby among the Afghans. Only for their innocence to be shattered by a trigger of events which results in warfare. The story begins in the 1970s where the country was relatively stable and peaceful until the overthrown of King Zahir Shah. From that point forward things in Afghanistan aren't the same with the clashes of political and religious ideologies within, still seen today.
The unstable circumstances test both Amir and Hassan's friendship, loyalties and principles which result in both boys going their separate ways. Amir chronically narrates this story throughout from beginning, when he was a child growing up in Kabul, to his new life in the United States since his father, Baba (played by Emilia Doorgasingh) sought political asylum in 1981. Amir shares his life story; highlighting a lot of themes involving the friendship with Hassan, the relationship of his father, the peace and stability of Afghanistan in the 1970s before the country became a Republic, emigrating to the US, his love for Soraya (played by Lisa Zahra) and so on. These stories within a story raises thoughts of class, economics, politics, religion and cultures. Afghanistan's unique culture and its strategic location in Central Asia affects one and all as much today as Amir.
There is an authorial presence in the production. The story is parallel to Hosseini's life and he believes 'writing from life'. He certainly wants the one and all to see Afghanistan differently and from an Afghan perspective and not how the country is perceived synonymously. Most importantly the story takes Amir on a journey of guilt and forgiveness which he experienced difficulties dealing and facing in order to find peace.
An excellent cast is supported by unique staging with its lighting, projection and sounds - courtesy of Barney George, Charles Barfour, William Simpson and Drew Baumotil who enhances the story's themes and moods, with references to Amir's past and present habitats.
The Kite Runner is packed with complexity, emotions and an invitation to explore Afghanistan's complex history and unique cultures. Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse originally produced The Kite Runner and is under the direction of Giles Croft.
A moving production which moves one from the very beginning...The Kite Runner is on at York Theatre Royal until Saturday 1st November 2014 and will be at the West Yorkshire Playhouse from the 3rd November 2014.
Personal note: Unfortunately we had to miss the final few minutes of this incredible production because of the travel constraints. Please note the play is approximately two hours 45 minutes long. The right length for the nature of the story with its packed and complex contents.