Play: The Kite Runner
Venue: Grand Opera House York
The bestselling novel by Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner, with its complex characters, non-stop narrative, many heart breaking moments, representation of the Afghan immigrant experience in the UA and its broad historical canvas seemed naturally theatrical to adaptor Matthew Spangler.
In his capable hands this story of guilt and redemption has risen to even dizzier heights than the book.
You’d have to experience the play for yourself to see if you’d agree, but there’s no doubt that Matthew’s dedication to the theatre, and his close collaboration with author Khaled and musical director Jonathan Girling has helped to make this production a soaring success.
Musician Hanif Khan’s on stage tabla-playing created just the right mood for whatever situation was occurring on stage. The music was an integral part of the play; the live percussion, such as the use of The Schwirrbogen (like large, over-grown, wooden football - rattles) played by the ensemble, really highlighted the drama of particularly tense scenes.
Barney George’s set design was simple and stark, dominated by the two halves of a kite, onto which Afghan and American images were projected. Having a ramp on stage worked well to create energy within the ensemble, especially in the riveting Kite Flying scenes.
Raj Ghatak was excellent in his role as guilt ridden Amir, and Gary Pillai, made a convincing Baba, his father, a proud businessman whom Amir tried desperately to please; their troubled relationship tore at your heartstrings.
Poor Hassan, Amir’s loyal friend and servant, was like a lamb to the slaughter; Jo Ben Ayed’s sensitive portrayal of this steadfast and true young man brought a lump to the throat.
Soroosh Lavasini’s sinister portrayal of the coward and bully Assef sent shivers up the spine. You wanted to cheer, when later, this now powerful member of the Taliban finally received his comeuppance.
Amir finally found “ a way to be good again ”, with his narrative a plea for forgiveness- from us, as well as from himself.
This was a play that stayed with you for a long time after you’d left the theatre.