Club Tropicana

The Kite Runner

5 September 14 words: Kieran Spiers
The Kite Runner – A moving, warm piece of theatre which brings forth a colourful, vibrant world to Nottingham.
The Kite Runner - LeftLion

The Kite Runner, an exceptional piece of theatre, comes back to Nottingham for a second time, and is a true and just adaptation on the best-selling novel by Khaled Hosseini published in 2003. The story spans over three decades, following two inseparable friends Amir (Ben Turner), a Pashtun boy, and Hassan (Andrei Costin), a Hazara and Amir’s loyal servant. We first meet them in the mid-1970s in Kabul, Afghanistan, where they thrive in a time of calm and tranquillity.  Amir and Hassan are kite runners: competing in kite fighting tournaments in which competitors use their own kites to slice the strings of opponents’. When local bully Assef (Nicholas Karimi) is introduced we see that Amir and Hassan are victims of an aggressive, sociopathic villain who manages, by pure callousness, to be the heart of conflict. He is responsible for the guilt which consumes Amir, toppling his ever-lasting friendship with Hassan. 
 
Matthew Spangler’s reinvention of the novel for the theatre successfully brings to life all of the narrative elements interweaved throughout the story. Giles Croft’s direction enforces this further with a very plain and simple set. Croft allows our attention to be focused on the acting of the ensemble as well as Amir’s continuing narration of the events unfolding throughout the play, which adds another dimension to the narrative. 
 
The piece is so vibrant in colour that it effectively represents the locations we are thrown into, including Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US. The use of visual graphics on a scrim, dropped down from the fly gallery, to create a makeshift doorway for indoor scenes proves fantastic. It allows us to imagine where the characters are without vast amounts of scenery. The addition of a colourful, artistic depiction of a pomegranate tree, sat upon layers of different shades of orange and yellow, helps the audience visualise the hill that Amir and Hassan sit upon as Amir reads a story. 
 

The Kite Runner - Left Lion

 

Live music created by the ensemble and their on-stage musician (Hanif Khan) completely resonates throughout the entirety of the piece, and successfully goes hand in hand with the dialogue and action. Walking into the theatre, we immediately get a sense of the culture and the world in which the majority of the story is set, just through Hanif playing the Afghan drums as we take our seats. Culture is a vital part of The Kite Runner, as we do not just follow the journey of Amir. We follow the development of Afghanistan as a country which starts off as a vibrant colourful place, then becomes a warzone following 1979 when the Soviet army invaded to forcefully reintroduce communism. And of course we witness the rise of the Taliban, and how that affects life and the characters. The 1979 invasion causes Amir and his father to flee to America, which proves to be a turning point for Amir as he is able to fashion a career in writing, and he meets and marries the love of his life.  
 
Ben Turner, who rightfully gained an encore and a huge round of applause at the performance reviewed, proves to be immaculate as Amir. He makes superb use of physicality as well as vocal capacity to not only play Amir as an adult, but also during his earlier years.  Hassan and Baba – Amir’s father (Emilio Doorgasingh) - are played with such emotion that watching scenes with these characters are an outstanding experience.  

The premise of The Kite Runner is born out of real life experiences and accounts, which Khaled Hosseini sums up: “Ultimately, when you’re creating a story, you have to connect it to something that is either real or feels real to you.” Giles Croft’s production of the play is definitely engaging, filled with emotion and comedy that lightens tension surrounding the story, and certainly builds to a heart-warming, moving end. 

The Kite Runner plays at the Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 6 September 2014 
 
Nottingham Playhouse website