The Kite Runner
Synopsis: One of the best-loved and most highly acclaimed novels of our time, The Kite Runner is a powerful play of friendship that follows one man’s journey to confront his past and find redemption. Afghanistan is a divided country and two childhood friends are about to be torn apart. It’s a beautiful afternoon in Kabul and the skies are full of the excitement and joy of a kite flying tournament. But neither of the boys can foresee the incident which will change their lives forever. Told across two decades and two continents, The Kite Runner is an unforgettable journey of redemption and forgiveness and shows us all that we can be good again.
Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, the Kite Runner follows the story of your Afghan boy Amir and his friendship with the son of his father’s servant and the inevitable betrayal of his friend that led to a series of life changing events. Tackling the rise and fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, this story is one of love, loss, and resilience.
Cast in the main role of Amir is Amir Arison who spends the entirety of the stage show, and never once had a chance to break. Amir delivered an emotionally charged portrayal and kept the audience connected to the emotional core of the story at hand. Playing Amir’s best friend was Eric Sirakian as Hassan, delivering the stand-out performance of this show. Eric’s portrayal was honest and raw. The material felt natural and fluid while propelling the story forward. In the second Act when he steps briefly out of the story, the loss of him on stage was deeply felt as he captivated the audience's attention and was who the audience was rooting for. Other performances of note were Faran Tahir as Baba, the businessman father of Amir who decides to flee Afghanistan when the Soviets take over, Amir Malaklou as Assef, the schoolyard bully who degrades and abuses Hassan and Amir, inevitably becoming a leader in the Taliban, and Azita Ghanizada as Soraya, the wife of Amir and fellow refuge from Afghanistan.
As this did start as a book initially, Matthew Spangler had the daunting task of adapting Khalid Hosseini’s book for the Broadway stage. Matthew delivered a well-thought-out and succinctly written first act. Where the script struggled was maintaining the momentum of the first act and at many points, the second act felt like it could have benefited from some editing as the material dragged. This script coupled with direction by Giles Croft helped to keep the story moving forward, even with the material needing some editing. Giles Croft expertly blended into the staging of powerful cultural moments to share with the audience, one of these shining moments was the wedding between Amir and Soraya.
Another notable technical moment was the simplistic, yet effective scenic design by Barney George (who also served as the customer). Many times the story can get lost in translation due to the incorporation of sprawling sets. By Mr. George stripping back the set to a few ramps and some curtains, it allowed the story to take place across so many different areas of the world. The inclusion of onstage drumming by Salar Nader to help move the story forward helped to highlight moments in the show and bring the audience into more intimate moments.
Overall, the Kite Runner was a fantastic adaptation to the stage and gives this powerful story another medium to connect with. Many of the issues the play experienced were with the actual material needing a bit more editing. Despite this, the actors on stage kept the story engaging and impactful. I went through the full range of emotions while watching this show.
This powerful show for me receives a 4 out of 5 stars and I recommend anyone who gets the opportunity to go and see it before it closes on October 30, 2022.
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