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The Kite Runner at Richmond Theatre | Review

Yazdan Qafouri & Stuart Vincent in The Kite Runner. Barry Rivett for Hotshot Photography.
Yazdan Qafouri & Stuart Vincent in The Kite Runner. Barry Rivett for Hotshot Photography.

The Kite Runner started out as the debut novel by Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini. It was published in 2003 and was adapted into a play by Matthew Spangler that was first produced in March 2007. It was however written the year before thereby pre-dating the film of the book – the two were very different just using the novel as source material.

The Kite Runner tells the story of Amir as he grows up as a young boy in Afghanistan and his friendship with fellow kite runner, Hassan who’s his best friend and the son of the family servant. Then a horrible incident changes them forever and their lives go in very different directions before they wind back round together to complete the circle.

The Kite Runner is narrated by a grown-up Amir after he has moved to San Francisco. The character is played superbly by Stuart Vincent who has to carry the play as he’s on stage for the whole time, addressing the audience with his extraordinary story whilst interacting with the other characters and aging from a young boy to a married man. He’s ably supported by the excellent Dean Rehman as his father Baba and an ensemble cast who play a number of characters as the story unfolds. The set is quite minimalist using two large sails to denote place and time but the greatest support from the actors comes from Drew Baumohl’s subtle sound design and the live tabla playing from the hands of Hanif Khan who sits on the stage almost throughout playing various drums and percussion instruments giving atmosphere and nuance to the action that’s going on behind him.

The Kite Runner is a fine play although to use football vernacular, it’s a game of two halves. The first, is quite static as the boys play children’s games such as pretending to be cowboys, flying their kites and having innocent fun before the life-altering incident. However all this changes after the interval as Amir’s life is transformed forever by circumstances happening in his home country and from a fairly slow start, things increase in pace in the second act. The play touches on a number of subjects and to quote the playwright: “This is a story about a father and son; a story about two best friends; a story about transnational immigration and refugees; a story about Afghanistan; global politics, class and ethnicity. Above all it’s a story of guilt and redemption”.

Although the book was written over twenty years ago, the theme of the plight of refugees having to leave their countries due to war, resonates just as loudly today. The diaspora of the Afghan people in the seventies and eighties is no different from what is going on around the world today so this UK tour of The Kite Runner couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. It’s superbly told by an excellent cast and whilst there are a lot of themes going on, it certainly works as a moving and thought-provoking piece of theatre.

4 stars

Review by Alan Fitter

Direct from Broadway, The Kite Runner, an outstanding and unforgettable theatrical tour de force is returning to the UK in 2024.

Based on Khaled Hosseini’s international bestselling novel, this haunting tale of friendship spans cultures and continents and follows one man’s journey to confront his past and find redemption.

Afghanistan is a country on the verge of war and best friends are about to be torn apart. It’s a beautiful afternoon in Kabul, the skies are full of colour and the streets are full of the excitement of a kite flying tournament, but no one can foresee the terrible incident that will shatter their lives forever.

One Broadway season and two West End seasons have garnered international acclaim for this incredibly powerful story, don’t miss it.

Book tickets for The Kite Runner live at Richmond Theatre from Tuesday 12th March to Saturday 16th March 2024.

Tue – Sat at 19:30
Wed and Sat at 14:30
Age guidance 15+

View All Shows Booking at Richmond Theatre
The Green, Richmond, TW9 1QJ

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