The Kite Runner – Four Stars ****

akiteThe Kite Runner (originally a novel by Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini first Published in 2003) tells the story of Amir (played by Ben Turner) and Hassan (Andrei Costin), two boys growing up in 1970s Afghanistan before the invasion of the Soviet Army at the end of that decade, and its poignancy in the current political climate of change does not pass unnoticed – but it also reminds us that the long conflict, which still dominates our political day to day, is nowhere near the end as it’s roots grow deeper than we often imagine.

Amir, a Pashtun heritage boy from a wealthy family who is growing up with his father, is riddled with feelings of inequity and often jealous of Hassan, a Hassara and servant to Amir. Despite this, they are great friends who bond over Wild West films, the love of stories and their heroes, and, most of all, flying kites. Hassan is the best kite runner of Kabul! And it is during the kite running tournament, on a fateful winter’s day, that Hassan’s and Amir’s lives are forever, and seemingly irredeemably, changed.

Adapting novels for the stage is no easy feat and one that spans four decades across two continents is harder still. This adaptation moves, enrages and is filled with humour, love and fragility – it does not let you down. Delivered by an ensemble cast of 13 actors through an unwavering first person narration, on a stunningly lit stage reminiscent of Brooke’s Battlefield design, the movements transport the audience from 70s Kabul, to 80s San Francisco, to Afghani markets in the US, back to Taliban dominated Afghanistan, and the boarders of Pakistan. The eye-sore of the piece was the by now surely outdated depiction of the Taliban leader as a raging, screaming madman, which left the bitter aftertaste of caricature and lack of differentiation.

‘History and religion aren’t easily overcome’, is a line in the play. No, they are not, and this most certainly rings true as the play culminates in its extraordinarily emotional ending, hardly leaving an eye dry in the audience. But, through the unfathomable power of redemption a beginning can be made, and, here, it is, across generations – rendering this production an instant classic.

Review by Alice Kornitzer

The Kite Runner running at Wyndham Theatre until 11th March 2017 Tickets available at the theatre and most ticket outlets and online. Www.wynd We have tickets from £16 here

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