The Kite Runner @ The Playhouse: A Review
Matthew Spangler’s adaptation of The Kite Runner transforms Hosseini’s best selling novel into a captivating stage performance – not an easy thing to master. The simplicity of the set with the backdrop of a skyline and a kite which occasionally sweeps in acting as curtains to hide distressing scenes, only adds to this mastery.
The retrospective narrative of central character Amir played beautifully by Raj Ghatak, guides the performance with his extensive monologues which look back from an adult perspective at his privileged childhood in 1970’s Kabul. Although initially the acting is somewhat less convincing, as the play progresses and the scene of the kite flying takes way the performance becomes griping and easier to decipher.
The dark twists and turns in Hosseini’s plot including the Soviet Invasion, the Taliban, the rape of Hassan and the depiction of 9/11 are difficult to portray on stage. However, Spangler handles such moments tastefully with the help of the set. A particularly impressive moment involving the shootings by the Taliban, cleverly uses reflections of shadows moving along the backdrop to depict the violence.
Hosseini’s character Hassan and his son Sohrab, were both brought to life from page to stage by Jo Ben Ayed with his extremely convincing facial expressions and timid persona.
Likewise, the character of Assef – the child bully and later leader of the Taliban, was also brilliantly cast. Soroosh Lavasini’s performance translated Hosseini’s central themes of social class and ethnic tensions insightfully and eloquantely on stage.
My favourite element of the production however, which tied the complex plot of the performance together excellently, was the music – composed and directed by Jonathan Girling. This included Hanif Khan’s performance playing the tabla at various intervals, along with the use of singing bowls to create a ringing sound in the audiences’ ears during moments of suspense.
Spangler’s adaptation encapsulates Hosseini’s narrative in just 2 hours and despite the cuts and changes he inevitably has to make, the central message remains clear, as Amir concludes the play by telling Sohrab: “For you a thousand times over.”
The Kite Runner is on at The Playhouse until Saturday 3rd March. To purchase tickets go to: https://www.everymanplayhouse.com/whats-on/the-kite-runner-0