the kite runner

22 Jun


Adapted by Matthew Spangler
From the novel by Khaled Hosseini
Life in Kabul before the revolution was serene and secure. There were religious problems between the Sunni and the Shi-ite, but these did not concern the two boys who played happily together and practised their expertise at kilt flying. Every year there was a celebration of kite flying and the one who won the competition was the champion of the year. Amir was keen to win to please Baba, his father, a seriously rich merchant, handsome, courageous and a kind of hero to his son. The other boy and the kite runner was Amir’s friend Hassan, and son of Ali, Baba’s dearly beloved servant.
Amir loved and feared his father but Baba was ashamed of him, because he wasn’t strong and brave – all he wanted to do was write stories. He only got encouragement from Rahim Khan who appreciated the boy’s talent.
Hassan saves Amir from danger and suffers for it leading to a lifetime of guilt for Amir. As the years go by, the revolution happens, the soviets invade Kabul and Baba and Amir escape to Pakistan and eventually to San Francisco where they start a whole new life with Amir’s new wife Soraya. It is here that Amir learns that the Taliban has arrived in Kabul and have banned kite flying. This and a letter from Rahim Khan saying he should come back to Kabul, makes up his mind to return.
David Ahmad has taken over the leading role of Amir and acts as narrator of the family history so is onstage throughout the evening. During the length of the show he manages to extract every ounce of honest feeling and Andrei Costin performs perfectly the humility and courage of his friend Hassan.
Probably one of the most handsome man in the business is Emilio Doorgasingh who plays Amir’s glamorous father. If ever Omar Sharif needed a double, here he is. Karl Seth plays he kindly Rahim Kahn along with other roles. Lisa Zahra plays the beautiful Soraya and shows off her dancing skills accompanied by Hanif Khan who creates a haunting atmosphere as he underscores the entire play with his expertise on the drums. It is worth getting to the play early hear his overture which he plays a half hour before the beginning of the show.
The setting is memorable as it comprises a stark background of tree stumps which changes easily into sky scrapers for the American scenes and for more lavish settings there are two vast decorated fans that unfurl and cover the whole of the stage.
Of all the shows in the West End, The Kite Runner is the most thrilling, spellbinding, and heart-breaking. I saw a hard man leaving the theatre with tears pouring down his cheeks – and he was not the only one. We love these characters so much and we want things to go well for them. Their whole lives are laid before us and the characterisations are so perfect that we fall in love with every one of them – well maybe not the psychopath Assef, played by Bhavin Bhatt with real menace and yet without melodrama. (He and his cohorts play jolly Afghanistan refugees in San Francisco in a different section of the play.)
It is perfectly directed by Giles Croft, and the exceptionally beautiful design is by Barney George. Everything works well together.
Here is a show that should run forever. As well as the main themes of Guilt, Atonement and familial relationships, there is so much to learn about Eastern cultures, the people’s attitudes to each other and shows how intolerance can lead to tragedy.

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