The Kite Runner is a beautiful book. I only read it a couple of months ago, and so I was very excited to see this adaptation to the stage of Khaled Hosseini’s best-selling novel. But maybe it’s a little like that saying ‘you should never meet your heroes’, because can it ever really meet up to expectations?
The Kite Runner is an epic, complicated novel set in 1970s Afghanistan – a time of tumultuous social and political change. It follows the life of Amir (David Ahmad) and his childhood friend and servant Hassan (Andrei Costin) and his relationship with his father/ Baba (Dean Rehman) as they struggle to come to terms with the upheaval in Afghanistan and their eventual move to America.
But, and this is the big but, it is about so, so much more. The Kite Runner is deep; it’s not just about transnational immigration and refugees, it’s not just about love, it’s not just about politics, class and ethnicity (which are all huge in themselves), but it’s also about guilt, redemption and forgiveness.
Trying to fit such a huge plethora of mighty issues into one theatrical production is a big ask. While Matthew Spangler’s adaptation is faithful to the first person narrative, to have Amir narrating key events so heavily, can start to underwhelm and monotone the story.
Jonathan Girling (Composer and Musical Director) has worked his magic with a live tabla player on stage and musician Hanif Khan plays throughout adding an evocative spell. It’s also wonderful to see the use of Tibetan Singing Bowls and other unusual instruments which add a sense of drama and aura to the production.
The Kite Runner is a difficult novel to pull off on the stage, especially when as a reader, you already have your own preconceived notions. Perhaps for those who haven’t read the book, the play is a good introduction to this novel. For me, Spangler has recreated the novel in a generic sense, however he leans too much on telling rather than showing and key nuances get lost. https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-kite-runner/richmond-theatre/
Reviewer: Samantha Collett
Reviewed: 10th March 2020
North West End UK Rating: ★★★