top of page
  • Aisha Khan

★★★★ REVIEW: The Kite Runner - A story of friendship, hope and redemption

If you had to potentially sacrifice yourself to stand up for someone you cared about, would you do it? Ideally, the answer would be yes, but sometimes it’s not that simple.

Having visited Sheffield's Lyceum last week, direct from Broadway, The Kite Runner is back in the UK to explore this!

Adapted for the stage by playwright Matthew Spangler and director Giles Croft, The Kite Runner is based on Khaled Hosseini’s beloved novel published in 2003. The story follows 12 year-old Amir growing up in 1970s Afghanistan, with the backdrop of war through the Russian invasion and Taliban rule. As he reflects on his past across the years and countries, he explores his relationships with his loyal friend and servant, Hassan, his father, and his own psyche. 

The story itself is incredibly moving. I adored the book - it was impactful, emotional, and multifaceted. I hoped that the production would emulate that and it did. The show follows the book perfectly, narrated by Stuart Vincent as Amir, taking the audience through his past, his memories, and his feelings across the decades. From present-tense 2001, we’re taken back to the 1970s with Amir as a child, through the next three decades of his life fleeing from Afghanistan, growing into an adult in America, integrating into a foreign society, falling in love, and eventually facing his past. 

Stuart Vincent did a great job managing his narrations as an observer, while also playing himself in the moments he presents. His switch from present-tense, adult Amir to twelve-year-old Amir is made clearer through his mannerisms and childish tone. 

What I absolutely loved though was Yazdan Qafouri’s performance as Hassan, Amir’s closest friend and servant. His acting was incredibly impactful, perfectly conveying Hassan’s loyalty, kindness and naïveté in his mannerisms, while his eyes conveyed his strength and intelligence (despite his illiteracy and societal ideas of his social standing). I loved his character while reading the book, and Qafouri really brought him to life from the pages. 

Despite already knowing the progression of the story, I felt anxiety during distressing scenes, emotional during both the heartbreaking and hopeful scenes, and overall moved from the adaptation as if I was experiencing it all for the first time. Qafouri’s performances as both Hassan and Sohrab really enhanced that, as he drove the impactful scenes.

Setting the scene for all these feelings was Hanif Khan playing his tabla at the front of the stage. His rhythms set and followed the atmosphere of the scenes unfolding, fast when intense, pausing for key moments or dramatic effect. It was quite pleasant to be able to see this music and scene-setting live on the stage - it added to the complexities of the scenes and enhanced the overall immersion by transporting us from scene to scene.

The set itself was fairly simple. It potentially could’ve had more to distinguish the different locations and times, but what it did have was cleverly manoeuvred. With kite shaped projectors at the back, different patterns and lighting dictated different settings - effective in its subtlety. My favourite use of it all spoiler alert, don’t read ahead if you don’t want to be spoiled was during the scene retelling how Hassan and his wife died. Now obviously the scene wasn’t my favourite because it was heartbreaking, but the projection of silhouettes on the kites acting out the moments of Hassan’s resistance, followed by shots ringing out - one for him, one for his wife - was very solemn and impactful. The sound of the guns, combined with the visual on the kites Hassan so loved, was an incredible moment of production. spoiler over

Combining these effective choreographies, the surrounding sounds, the use of lighting and spotlights for different moods and moments, with the brilliant acting of all the cast, made for a very well produced, devastating and moving show. It was heartbreaking but there was hope. Despite the trauma of the past, the kites symbolised hope and progression. The majority of the kites used were white, which to me felt like potential for blank slates and new beginnings. 

The Kite Runner is a story of loss, complex relationships, redemption and hope. Though uncomfortable and upsetting at times, there were moments of joy and laughter sprinkled throughout - as happens in life. I left the theatre feeling hopeful and teary eyed, glad to have seen the story brought to life in the best way.


bottom of page