Betty Zapata

The Kite Runner

Reviewer's Rating

Khaled Hosseini’s novel rightfully received widespread acclaim, spending two years as a New York Times bestseller, selling over seven million copies in the United States alone. Matthew Sangler’s adaptation does not let this down.

The adaptation is, on the whole, very crisp, telling the story of Amir and Hassan’s friendship against the backdrop of incredibly turbulent Afghan politics, and the emerge of violence in the country. The first-person delivery that Amir uses to tell his story is gripping: there is no opportunity to avoid engaging in the story, and it’s fantastic.

This delivery offers a captivating way of telling the story: there’s an overtness that we are watching the retelling of his life, but a truly gripping way into the story. Despite this supposed detachment, the play is still desperately sad and happy at times.

Raj Ghatak as Amir is engaging and sits with the entire show comfortably on his shoulders. His relationship with Jo Ben Ayed’s Hassan is superbly crafted, and the real tragedy of the play. Ben Ayed’s portrayal is fraught with precision: he is a servant and is constantly engaging with the world around him as he struggles to find a foothold. Gary Pillai is very strong in the second half as Baba, Amir’s father, as his life begins to slip away from him. The disjuncture between his life in Afghanistan and his refugee life in the US is particularly resonant in today’s current climate.

There is fat to be trimmed from the second half of the performance though, I think by embracing the first person narrative more persistently. Nonetheless, this is a crisp, pertinent and ultimately human play.