The Kite Runner 

The Kite Runner 
Reviewer's rating

In a captivating portrayal, the powerful story of an Afghan boy leaps from the page to the stage with breath-taking artistry.

Written before its cinematic counterpart, this adaptation is better. Portrayed by a stellar cast and narrated with enchanting melodies, the audience is swept away on a tidal wave of raw, unfiltered emotion, ensuring an experience that lingers long after the curtain falls.

Amir (Stuart Vincent) and Hassan (Yazdan Qafouri) grew up together but are seen differently in the eyes of many. Amir is Pashtun and comes from a well-respected and wealthy family. Hassan is Hazara and is a servant to Amir. Despite this, the boys have a beautiful friendship, flying kites and reading stories underneath the pomegranate tree. Until Hassan is attacked by bullies and Amir cowers away – proceeding to shun him, consumed by guilt. Hassan shows loyalty throughout but eventually he and his father Ali (Tiran Aakel) leave the residence.

The Soviets invade, forcing Amir and his father, Baba (Dean Rehman) to flee to Pakistan, eventually seeking asylum in California. There they build a life together, Amir marries, and they settle within an Afghan community. Until the past comes calling through an old friend, Rahim Khan (Christopher Glover). A chance for Amir “to be good again”.

Giles Croft masterfully brings this emotional narrative to life on stage, infusing it with depth and resonance. From casting choices to simple and effective set design, every aspect of the performance is impeccably executed, honouring the essence of the original author’s work. Jonathan Girling collaborates intricately with Hanif Khan, the onstage musician, to craft a sonic landscape of complex rhythms that enrich the script’s emotional tapestry. The strategic use of percussion, employed by the actors, not only mimics the wind but also heightens the dramatic tension, adding layers of nuance to the storytelling.

Of course, the foundation of any good play is a solid script, Matthew Spangler gives just that. Having collaborated with Khaled Hosseini himself – the original author whom like Amir was a refugee – Spangler effortlessly intertwines Afghan culture within the play. Farsi is woven into the script, adding authenticity while keeping the audience in the know. What is a dark and unsettling story, still gives many moments of tasteful humour, arguably necessary for such heavy themes.

Stuart Vincent and Yazdan Qafouri deliver compelling performances, skilfully embodying the innocence and vulnerability of their characters in childhood. Qafouri deserves special recognition for his interpretation of both Hassan and his son Sohrab, capturing their emotional depth with remarkable authenticity. Bhavin Bhatt’s depiction of Assef, the bully turned Taliban, is hauntingly convincing, evoking a palpable sense of menace. Dean Rehman’s portrayal of Baba showcases his remarkable range, seamlessly transitioning between the powerful presence of a successful businessman and the frailty of an aging man. Hats off to the casting directors.

Overall, a commendable performance that floods one with emotions. A beautiful ode to Afghanistan, giving a voice to its history with such finesse.


UK Tour until Saturday 6th July 2024

Adapted By Matthew Spangler

Based on Novel By Khaled Hosseini

Directed by Giles Croft

Cast includes: Stuart Vincent, Dean Rehman, Yazdan Qafouri

Running time: 2 hour 30 mins (including 20-minute interval)