Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
Sarah Crown
Theatre Correspondent
5:47 AM 5th June 2024

The Kite Runner - A Memorable Performance

Photo:: Barry Rivett for Hotshot Photography.
Photo:: Barry Rivett for Hotshot Photography.
When you have read what you consider to be a thought provoking but fabulous book it can always be a concern as to how successfully it will transfer to the stage, but adapted by Mathew Spangler and directed by Giles Croft, I need not have worried. With portrayals of rape, beatings and death the stage version of The Kite Runner is as hard-hitting as the book of the same name by Khaled Hosseini.

The Kite Runner is set in 1970’s Afghanistan and recounts the story of a special and lifelong friendship between Amir, a young man from a wealthy Pashtun family and Hassan, a servant and a Hazara.

Much of this epic story is told by Amir (Stuart Vincent) who acts as the narrator and who is on the stage for almost all of the performance. The first act focusses on Amir’s complex relationships with those close to him, his friendship with Hassan (Yazdan Qafouri), Baba his father (Dean Rehman), his father’s faithful servant Ali (Tiran Aakel) and last but by no means least with the local bully Assef played by (Bhavin Bhatt). The action and dialogue well illustrates the conflicts and intolerances in Afghan society between the various tribes and differing religions each living in close proximity to each other. The decisions the young Amir makes are often poor decisions which haunt him into adulthood.

Photo: Barry Rivett for Hotshot Photography.
Photo: Barry Rivett for Hotshot Photography.
Act 2 turns its attention to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, Amir’s and Baba’s subsequent escape from their home country, their new life in America and Amir’s marriage to Soraya (Daphne Kouma) and most importantly the opportunity Amir is given to make good his mistakes of the past.

There are some really memorable scenes, most notably the kite flying scenes and the brutal assault by Assef on Hassan. The narration leaves nothing to the imagination so although very well done was uncomfortable to hear and see.

The Kite Runner is a complex story of history, class race and religion, hope and forgiveness and the cast are superb, demonstrating throughout an understanding and mastery of their respective roles.

Photo: Barry Rivett for Hotshot Photography.
Photo: Barry Rivett for Hotshot Photography.
The scene is set from the moment the audience enter the auditorium as throughout the performance the tabula player, Hanif Khan, sits in a corner of the stage playing his instrument. This enhances the performance by emphasizing key moments in the narration. The set design by Barney George is both simple and effective and is further enhanced by a clever lighting design courtesy of Charles Balfour and although the scenery is not changed the audience are easily able to distinguish the Afghan scenes from the later American ones.

The play is true to the book of the same name which, although is a work of fiction, its tale is rooted in fact and as such is well worth a couple of hours of anyone’s time who has an interest in the recent history of Afghanistan and the Taliban.

Sheffield Lyceum Until 8th June