‘There is a way to be good again’. These famous words are the opening scene of The Kite Runner, a stage production now performing at Richmond Theatre until 14th March as part of its UK tour.
This play is a faithful adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s international bestselling novel. I first read The Kite Runner a number of years ago, and it has remained with me since and one I highly recommend anyone to read. For those who may not have read the book, the play begins in mid 1970s in an Afghanistan on the verge of war. In Kabul, childhood best friends Amir and Hassan are excited over the kite flying tournament. Yet an incident is about to have devastating consequences that will impact their whole life. Spanning continents and cultures, The Kite Runner is tale of friendship, fathers and sons, jealousy, sacrifice, family, war and redemption. Not to mention a tale of politics, class, ethnicity, and transnational migration.
The play is heavily narrated, remaining faithful to the book and meaning many sections are word-for-word which was a real joy. The first half went flying by, whilst the second half, perhaps given the heaviness of the themes, was longer. Through it all, our eyes were glued to the stage.
David Ahmad as the central role of Amir plays well the dual roles of a regretful adult looking back over his youthful self. He is joined by another returning cast member Andrei Costin as Hassan, who stoops to physically show his lower status to his friend. I would have liked Amir’s voice to change from the higher pitch tones of a pre-teen to the deeper tones of an adult to also represent his journey. Lisa Zahra as Soraya and Bhavin Bhatt as Assef have also reprised their roles.
One of the highlights and most talked about aspects was the music. Live on stage musician Hanif Khan plays the Tabla (drums) throughout, in but apart from the action. Various rhythms, tempos and use of silence are used to emphasise key moments; for example, fast beats to convey running and excitement and silence before or after a phrase delivering a key message. Various members of the cast use on stage percussion instruments such as the Schwitrbogen (wooden rattle) which imitates the wind underneath the kites and conveys innocence whilst Tibetan Singing Bowls, normally used for relaxation purposes, produce a single-toned sustained sound to create suspense , tension and convey Amir’s overwhelming feelings. Indian stringed instruments, an oil dream and a mallet are also used to transport the audience to Afghanistan.
A rug and a low skateboard wooden ramp on either side of the stage with some wooden blocks at the back were the set and reminds us that in this play it is the narrative that is the focus. The dominating feature of Barney George’s design is the large kite separates in two that opens and closes for various scenes. Here, Afghan artwork, American cityscapes and silhouettes of violence are projected thanks to William Simpson’s designs.
Readers- this is an absolutely stunning production that I give five out of five stars. It is heart-wrenchingly beautiful and powerful. So much so that I even cried, which is something I hardly ever do. It will remain with you long after you’ve left the theatre.
This production has been adapted by Matthew Spangler and directed by Giles Croft. It had a developmental production in America in 2007 then was produced by Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse in 2013.
The Kite Runner performs at Richmond Theatre until 14th March. For tickets please contact 08448717651 or book online at ATGtickets.com/Richmond. There are evening performances from Tuesday 10th to Saturday 14th March at 7:30pm, and matinees on Wednesday and Saturday at 2:30pm. Tickets start from £13.
After Richmond, The Kite Runner continues it’s tour:
– 17-21 March, Playhouse, Salisbury
– 31 March – 5 April, Playhouse, Leeds
– 6-11 April, Lowry, Salford
– 14-18 April, Churchill Theatre , Bromley
– 21 – 25 April, Grand Theatre , Wolverhampton
– 28 April- 2 May, Devonshire Theatre, Eastbourne
– 4- 9 May, Theatre Royal, Plymouth
– 12 – 16 May, Hippodrome, Darlington
– 19 – 23 May, Cardiff New Theatre, Cardiff
– 26 – 30 May, Eden Court, Inverness
– 2-6 June, New Victoria Theatre, Woking
– 9- 13 June, Playhouse, Oxford
– 16 – 20 June, Nuffield Southampton Theatres, Southampton
– 22 – 27 June, Curve Theatre, Leicester
– 30 June – 4 July, Lyceum, Sheffield
Information about The Kite Runner:
Or search #KiteRunnerPlay
Information about Richmond Theatre
Address: Richmond Theatre, 1 Little Green, Richmond, TW9 1QH
Written by Caitlin Neal