My anticipation for The Kite Runner was fuelled by excitement and fear; would Matthew Spangler’s stage adaption of Khaled Hosseini’s stunning novel make a box of tissues a must in surviving the 2 hours 40 minutes? The running time may seem excessive but the show captivates you within minutes and keeps your attention; it will not let down any avid fans of the novel.
For those who have not read the book, The Kite Runner is initially the story of two boys, Pashtun Amir and the Hazara family servant Hassan growing up in Kabul, Afghanistan. However, it soon develops, and the show portrays the sombre and relevant themes of politics and religion amidst a human story of betrayal, emotion and love.
Ben Turner as Amir is outstanding; never leaving the stage he transforms himself from American accented adult narrator reflecting on his experience, to a boy growing up in Kabul, to a young man attempting to find his way. The framing effect of his narrative of consciousness throughout the play maintains the significant first person perspective of the novel, helping the audience to visualise the story and developing the significant theme of guilt and regret. Although the whole cast is effective, Farshid Rokey deserves a mention; he plays Hassan with such quiet honesty you cannot fail to believe the relationship of love and loyalty between his character and Amir. His double casting as Sohrab also helps to develop the idea of resolution.
The staging is simple, with a silhouette of the San Francisco skyline to indicate America, and projected images of trees or patterns on to sheets in the backdrop to indicate Afghanistan or Pakistan. It allows the audience to fully watch and appreciate the acting. The vital kite running scene is spectacular in its simplicity, and with the narration, the audience feels their imagination taking over, visualising the scene with help from the sound effects. Music is a vital part of the production, the percussionist sits onstage throughout to create tension or reflect the children’s excitement.
It is not an easy watch, you might find it breaks your heart, but from the initial scenes to its bittersweet conclusion, you will not take your eyes off the stage. Take a break from revision and watch this beautiful play.
Image: Robert Day
The Kite Runner runs at the Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 18th May. For tickets go to: http://www.nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk/