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The Kite Runner | Richmond Theatre

The Kite Runner, based on 2003 best selling novel by Khaled Hosseini, adapted for stage by Matthew Spangler and directed by Giles Croft, soars with an excellent production. The play transports you into its world and it is a transformative piece. 

The play follows the lives of two young boys, Amir (Stuart Vincent) and Hassan (Yazdan Qafouri), as they face endless struggles on a personal and political level set against the backdrop of a war torn Afghanistan, when all they want is to have a happy and safe childhood. Sadly, the themes are still as relevant today as when it was written, and the pain and anguish that the world currently feels seeps into the play and soaks the words with a current sense of urgency. 

The show is immensely moving with the stark contrasts between the two younger boys and their love for kite flying, and the many threads that entangle this joy. Amir, who struggles to seek approval from his firm father, Baba (Dean Rehman) and Hassan who works as a servant for the family facing harsh abuse from the surrounding society. 

The cast deliver an exceptional performance, particularly Stuart Vincent and Yazdan Qafouri as Amir and Hassan. Portraying the younger versions of the characters themselves is a gamble that absolutely pays off. With Amir often breaking the fourth wall to narrate to the audience, Vincent switches between a younger version of his character, and the man he's grown into, completely disappearing into the two very different versions of Amir. A breakdown scene in the second act really showcases just how strong of an actor he is.

Qafouri, as Hassan and Sohrab, manages to emote wordlessly and truly devastate the audience with the horrific ordeals his characters face. Rehman as Baba is a quietly brilliant performer and brings a gravitas to the role. Bhavan Bhatt as the truly vile Assef is commendable in his role, and will continue to traumatise the audience after the show with his cold ways. 

The staging is quite minimalistic (Barney George), with slopes leading into the wings and a large fence towards the rear of the stage. The fence serves as a silent reminder of the limited freedom that the boys can explore and this echoes throughout the play, even when the play shifts to being set in America. An occasional beautifully designed cloth circle unravels, which often aids visually with the intricate designs or descriptions of specific items through the use of projections. 

Jonathan Girling serves as composer and musical director, and has incorporated traditional sounds, music and instruments into the background score. With the talented Hanif Khan performing Tabla (Indian hand drums) live on stage, the use of singing bowls and live hand held percussions help immerse the audience further into the world. Not only providing a rich cultural experience, and becoming the beating heart of the show, it's also been cleverly incorporated into the piece to help create some truly creative and powerful visuals, especially when the entire cast begin to perform together. 

The Kite Runner is an emotionally moving and frankly, devastating piece that touches upon the humanity (and lack of) that both bind us together and tear us apart. Reflecting on self-awareness, generational learnings, family ties, loyalty and love, The Kite Runner proves why it's been considered one of the greatest stories of the century. The story has been brought to life through this fantastic production and I would recommend you to watch it a thousand times over, for you will leave a changed person. However, do take a box of tissues. The Kite Runner plays at Richmond Theatre until 16th March - for more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Barry Rivett at Hotshot Photography


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