The Kite Runner

★★★★ Thought-Provoking, Poignant and Heartbreaking 

Background

The international bestselling novel and film, is a powerful story of friendship spanning cultures and continents, following one man’s journey to find redemption. Adapted into a stunning stage production that has already mesmerised audiences across the UK, The Kite Runner has transferred to the West End for a strictly limited 12-week season at Wyndham’s Theatre until Saturday 11 March.

Joining Ben Turner in the lead role of Amir are Emilio Doorgasingh (as Baba), Nicholas Khan (Rahim Khan), Lisa Zahra (Soraya), David Ahmad (Kamal), Ezra Khan (Ali), Nicholas Karimi (Assef), Antony Bunsee (General Taheri), Hanif Khan (Tabla Player), Bhavin Bhatt (Wali / Doctor), Andrei Costin (Hassan / Sohrab), Johndeep More (ensemble), Natasha Karp (ensemble).

Photo by Robert Workman

Afghanistan is a divided country on the verge of war and two childhood friends are about to be torn apart. It’s a beautiful afternoon in Kabul and the skies are full of the excitement and joy of a kite flying tournament. But neither Hassan or Amir can foresee the terrible incident which will shatter their lives forever.

This shocking portrayal of two friends torn apart by a hideous attack, the guilt which consumes one (Ben Turner as Amir) and the deplorable pain and degradation endured of the other (Hassan played by Andrei Costin) is at times excruciating but mesmerising to watch.

Photo by Robert Workman

I confess I hadn’t read the book before my visit preferring to feel the power that live performance gives you. A masterclass in skill and acting was observed in this production, not just from leading man Turner but from Costin, Antony Bunsee, Emilio Doorgasingh, and Lisa Zahra. It was both thought-provoking and humbling to watch someone give their utmost devotion selflessly to serve another. Whilst the hate and disdain felt towards a person (Assef played by Nicholas Karimi) who can commit such evil acts demonstrates how immensely powerful Karimi’s portrayal is.

Whilst Turner narrates the story in the background Hanif Khan plays tabla music softly in the background, a perfect accompaniment which defused the intensity of the piece at times provided much-needed respite. Turner wracked with guilt, with his lies spiralling out of control, realises that he can never repay his childhood friend for his loyalty.

Photo by Robert Workman

This is a beautiful production which has a heartbreaking poignancy that reminds us all that every action has consequences. An adaptation by Matthew Spangler who encapsulates the real life storytelling of the Kite Runners and what war-torn Afghanistan has endured for many years.

There were a couple of areas which I took issue with, but compared to the magnitude of the performances and production, they pale into insignificance.

Certainly a show to be seen with a caveat that advises you to be prepared to feel drained with emotion after the house lights go up at the end of the two hours forty-five minutes.

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