BWW Review: THE KITE RUNNER, Theatre Royal, Glasgow
Based on the bestselling novel by Kahled Hosseini The Kite Runner begins in Kabul in the early 1970's. Amir (played by David Ahmad) and Hassan (Jo Ben Ayed) have grown up together as Hassan's father is Amir's servant and the children are very close. However, Amir will always deny that Hassan is his friend when challenged as Hassan is Hazara and Amir is Pashtun.
I'm always a little nervous going into a page to stage adaptation- especially when it comes to a novel I love. Thankfully, this is a beautiful adaptation and makes for a stunning play. It can't be an easy one to translate for the stage with the story spanning over 25 years, taking place in Afghanistan, Pakistan and California but everything is held together by Amir's narration.
There is a turning point in Amir and Hassan's relationship, where Amir witnesses his friend being assaulted and chooses to do nothing about it. The attack isn't seen by the audience, but there is no doubt as to what is taking place and for Amir to tearfully recount what he saw is perhaps far more powerful than the audience to watch it unfold themselves.
The friendship between the two boys is incredibly touching as the two adult performers take on the mannerisms of children and it is a joy to watch them. The entire cast gave a strong performance and I was especially impressed with Jo Ben Ayed as Hassan and later, his son Sohrab. David Ahmad manages to gather sympathy as Amir, even after he betrays his best friend as he clearly struggled with such big issues at a young age.
The set is simple and hardly changes throughout the duration of the play which is suitable as it doesn't distract from the wonderful storytelling. Likewise the lighting and use of sound and music were very effective without being overbearing.
The Kite Runner isn't an easy watch but it is so worth it. While staying true to the novel it easily stands on its own two feet as a remarkable piece of theatre.
The Kite Runner runs at the Theatre Royal until Saturday 16th September.
Photo credit: Robert Workman