Review: THE KITE RUNNER, Theatre Royal, Glasgow

The Kite Runner runs at the Theatre Royal until Saturday 13 April

By: Apr. 10, 2024
Review: THE KITE RUNNER, Theatre Royal, Glasgow
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Review: THE KITE RUNNER, Theatre Royal, Glasgow

First staged in 2009, The Kite Runner is an adaptation of the 2003 novel of the same name by Afghan-American novelist Khaled Hosseini. 

The story begins in Kabul in the 1970s where Amir (Stuart Vincent) and Hassan (Yazdan Qafouri) are best friends. Amir is the son of a wealthy man and they live on a sprawling estate. Hassan's father Ali (Tiran Aakel) is the servant to Amir's father Baba (Dean Rehman). Despite the unusual circumstances, the boys are incredibly close and Baba treats Ali and Hassan as family.

Amir begins to fear that he is a coward. During any confrontation is it the younger Hassan that stands up for them, despite his lower social status. One winter evening, Amir witnesses something happening to Hassan and doesn't intervene, driving a wedge between the two boys. Hassan isn't sure what has made Amir pull away from this lifelong friendship and Amir reacts with a lie, ensuring that he will no longer have any contact with Hassan and Ali.

It would be easy to turn against Amir but Stuart Vincent plays the young boy with such a vulnerability which works beautifully alongside Yazdan Qafouri's endlessly kind and gentle Hassan. The pair are a joy to watch together which is partly what makes this production so heartbreaking.

Amir spends the rest of his life learning to stand up for what is right. He meets and marries Soraya (Daphne Kouma) after seeking asylum in the USA with his father as a teenager. As an adult, he returns to Afghanistan which is now under Taliban rule to attempt to atone for what he did as a boy.

A lot of the skill in the performances from this incredible cast lies in their ability to adapt to the changes in the characters over the years. We see Baba go from this imposing and intimidating businessman in Kabul to a frail old man. Amir transforms from a carefree young boy to a burdened adult and their ability to develop these characters is impressive.

Adapted by Matthew Spangler and directed by Giles Croft, this production of The Kite Runner is utterly captivating from start to finish. It's a fairly quiet play with live percussion on stage to set the scene but the audience remains silent throughout. The writing is beautiful and the performances ensure that you are hooked from the very beginning.  
Barney George's stage design and Charles Balfour's lighting design also play a huge part in audiences being able to get lost in the landscape. 

There's no denying that The Kite Runner is a difficult watch at times and incredibly moving. From the beautiful writing to an incredible cast, this is nothing short of a masterpiece.

Photo credit: Barry Rivett



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