Theatre Review – The Kite Runner, Wyndham’s Theatre, London

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Khaled Hosseini’s best-selling novel  is set in Afghanistan, most people know Afghanistan only through reports of violence, we’ve all heard about Kabul and the Helmand province but only as military outposts. What most of us don’t know is that these were once vibrant and thriving communities.This returning stage adaptation of The Kite Runner is an emotional insight into a father-son relationship set against the backdrop of Afghanistan’s transition from relative peace in the early 1970s to the fall of the monarchy, Russian invasion and the rise of the Taliban.

Ben Turner returns to the role of Amir with an engaging performance; If you’ve read the novel, you will notice that Amir’s story is told chronologically, from his journey from privileged child in the East to his family’s escape and new life as Afghan immigrants in San Fransisco. Amir is the son of an influential Afghan businessman and also the narrator, as his life and the fortunes of his country unfold, he is retrospectively looking back on the events that led up to his life now. Amir’s best friend Hassan who is his father’s servant’s son and the complex, guilt-laden relationship between father, son and servant’s son is key to the play.

Andrei Costin captures Hassan’s downtrodden character well. Hassan is like a lamb, sent to the slaughter at every opportunity Amir could find, yet his loyalty is proved over and over again – who can forget the fateful snowy day that ruins the boys’ relationship separating them forever. Hassan promised to run the kite Amir cut when he won the competition with the infamous heart- wrenching line: “for you a thousand times over”. He refuses to hand it over to the bullies – led by thug Assef (Nicholas Karimi) and Amir fails to intervene when his friend is raped for his loyalty.

Baba, Amir’s father, a proud business man played by Emilio Doorgasingh is the conduit through which Afghanistan’s traditions and cultural heritage are revealed.

Amir finds the redemption he so sorely seeks – after his father’s friend Rahim Khan (Nicholas Khan) asks him to come to Pakistan. There, the story unfolds  that Hassan was actually his half-brother after his father slept with his servant Ali’s wife. The truth allows him to redeem himself by rescuing his half-nephew from the Taliban, here we meet a now grown up Assef as the bully.

The set design is minimal yet effective;  The kite running scenes are clever, with sounds created by the cast’s use of hand-held wind generators.

Adults acting as their child selves is somewhat distracting at times. However, Giles Croft’s direction allows this heartbreaking and though provoking story to unfold and develop with smooth transitions between narration and action. Overall an unglamourous yet honest telling of a multi-millions selling debut novel from Hosseini.


The Kite Runner runs until the 11th March.


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