Since its publication in 2003, ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Housseini has sold 31.5 million copies worldwide and has been adapted for both the big screen and the theatre. I am sure anyone who has seen it will agree that the film is terrrrible! I’m talking: dreadful, abominable, appallling, shameful, *insert any other synoynms you like*. Whoever directed that film should be imprisoned. The Kite Runner is one of the most beautifully written, emotive stories of all time and, prior to this weekend, it seemed no other medium other than words could do it justice. With this in mind, I was slightly apprehensive about going to see Giles Croft’s stage adaptation of The Kite Runner however I had heard nothing but good reviews so decided to give it a go.
Giles Croft’s production successfully captures the heart of the story with it’s simple set and moving storytelling. Amir – played by Ben Turner – presents as an adult throughout and speaks directly to the audience, narrating the events of his life leading up to this point. His softly spoken monalogues, intertwined with flashbacks to the past, make for an emotional ride through Amir’s life; from child to adult, Afhganistan to America, coward to hero. For me, the real triumph of this stage production was Amir’s poor, Hazara servant, Hassan, played by Andrei Costin. With his youthful looks and superb acting, Costin captured the kindhearted and innocent character of Hassan perfectly.
‘That was the thing with Hassan. He was so goddamn pure, you always felt like a phony around him.’
As a child, Amir is jealous of his father’s relationship with Hassan and cannot understand why his father, Baba, treats a servant boy with such high regard. Desperate for his father’s respect and admiration, Amir enters a local kite-fighting tournament and successfuly cuts the strings of all his opponents to be the last kite flying. Running this kite for Amir, Hassan would do “a thousand times over” but it is on this fateful last sprint that the Hazara (literally) runs in to trouble. Refusing to hand the kite over to bullies, Hassan is brutally raped by the local thug Assef (Nicholas Karimi) as Amir cowardly hides in the shadows.
‘I opened my mouth, almost said something. Almost. The rest of my life might have turned out differently if I had. But I didn’t. I just watched. Paralyzed.’
Consumed by guilt, Amir struggles to cope with the consequences of his actions and constructs a lie to rid Hassan, and the attached remorse, from his life altogether. After a failed attempt to clear his conscience, Amir is offered “a way to be good again”and, from this point onwards, the twists and turns unfold into what is ultimately one of the greatest stories of all time.