When it comes to film and theatre, nothing can substitute a good story. No quality of acting, no fancy sets, no musical score. This is what The Kite Runner has above all else, and why it remains remains such a popular tale, in all its formats.
In the stage adaptation of The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini’s hard hitting and ironic story of shame, guilt and unfaltering loyalty in friendship across social class, father-son relationships and brotherhood – is narrated to the audience in a compelling and convincing manner by Ben Turner, who plays the protagonist Amir. Turner deserves five stars for the energy he maintains till the very end of the play. He is on stage for the full duration and seamlessly transitions between narration and acting the events of the story. With no change of costume throughout the play, he plays both Amir – the young, timid, spoilt Afghan boy of a wealthy businessman, and later Amir – the fully Americanised twenty-something writer and husband. No doubt he is more at home as the older Amir, but his effort as the 12 year-old is impressive to watch nonetheless.
Other star performances come from Andrei Costin, who plays Hassan, the son of Amir’s Hazara servant, and later Hassan’s own son Sohrab. Neither are easy roles to play but Costin’s Hassan will likely be the one thing you will remember from this play in the days and weeks to follow. Anthony Bunsee and Emilio Doorgasingh bring some much-needed light humour to the play as General Taheri (Amir’s father-in-law) and Baba (Amir’s father) respectively. Both play the quintessential, proud Afghan fathers, reluctantly dependent on America while remaining loyal to their Afghan values in their old age. Both have brilliant stage presence and are great fun to watch.
Nicholas Karimi often overacts the character of Assef, but it’s probably difficult not to. Assef is pure evil with absolutely no layers or nuances. Again, an unpleasant character to play given the events of the story and Karimi’s effort is notable.
The acting and writing can’t be faulted in Matthew Spangler’s adaptation of this popular story, you will be gripped, especially in the second half, and at least half the audience will give the cast a standing ovation. Still, more effort through set and sound to portray Kabul, and Afghan life, would have made this a really delightful experience. Aside from the beautiful wedding scene of Amir and Soraya, it feels that an opportunity to bring Kabul to life for an audience that is likely never to visit the city has been missed. Even the background music; while Hanif Khan’s live tabla provided a suitably South Asian feel, a rubab or some Pastho vocals, even if recorded, would have sounded beautiful and transportive. But don’t let that stop you catching The Kite Runner for some classic, emotive storytelling in one of London’s most quaint theatres.
When: Showing until Saturday 11th March 2017
Where: Wyndham’s Theatre, Charing Cross Rd, London WC2H 0DA
Tickets: £14.75 – £91.75
More info and to book: Wyndham’s Theatre
By Sona Hathi.
Sona is a researcher and consultant from London. She’s hedonistic when it comes to Design, Arts and Culture, particularly the South Asian variety. She gives back through journalistic writing and the occasional kathak performance.
Posted on 28 January 2017