Theatre Review: The Kite Runner

Words: Saskia Foran
Wednesday 10 April 2024
reading time: min, words

Saskia Foran went to see The Kite Runner at the Nottingham Playhouse...

Untitled 1 Copy

Adapted from the best-selling novel by Khaled Hosseini, ‘The Kite Runner’ follows the tumultuous relationship of Amir and Hassan, childhood friends in 1970’s Afghanistan. Two young boys whose lives are forever shaped by brutal events that unfold, exposing them to horrific realities and separating them forever whilst their country is on the cusp of war.

The Kite Runner’ deals with incredibly complex and mature themes, including war, rape, brutality and political conflict. The intense nature of the story is dealt with delicately through Matthew Spangler’s adaptation, yet the actors’ masterful delivery of the hard-hitting scenes still lands as impactful as ever on the audience.

Amir (Stuart Vincent) expertly and fluidly transitions from portraying life in Afghanistan to narrating the story to the audience from his point of view. The first half of ‘The Kite Runner’ sets the scene exploring the complexities of life in Afghanistan, the struggles between class, religion and the discrimination between the Sunni and Shia Muslims that reside there. Amir being from a wealthy Pashtun family, his relationship with Hassan (Yazdan Qafouri) as his best friend is peppered with imbalance as Hassan and his father Ali are Amir’s and his Baba’s (Dean Rehman) servants and are Hazara people, heavily discriminated against in the community there. Despite this, Vincent and Qafouri beautifully portray the boys’ adoration of each other, as innocent children not separated by societal structure. Their friendship is pure, and their brotherhood is evident, depicted cleverly without the use of child actors, both Vincent and Qafouri successfully portray the boys at different ages as the pressures of the world start to creep into their lives. Special mention has to go to Yazdan Qafouri’s emotional range, who’s believable and unwavering love and loyalty to Amir is heartbreakingly palpable as Amir’s betrayal of Hassan unravels in front of our eyes.

Their friendship is pure, and their brotherhood is evident

Set design and the culturally relevant use of props, transports us from 1970s Afghanistan, through to 1980-2000s United States throughout the production. The immersive use of live music on stage beautifully aids the transition back and forth between the two contrasting cultures and countries with the ensemble cast enhancing every step of this. The moral quandary facing Amir’s character culminates in the second half of the play with his conscience brought to a head by his new wife Soraya (Daphne Kouma) which ultimately leads to him seeking redemption for his younger self. This difficult portion of the play is both affronting and healing in equal measure, with the consequences of Amir’s actions causing both further pain, before eventually resulting in a positive ending.

The Kite Runner’ is heavy, loaded with emotional turmoil and difficult topics but it is executed delicately, powerfully and with the utmost cultural respect– a must see.

The Kite Runner runs at the Playhouse from Tues 16th of April to Sat 20th of April 2024. 

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