September 26th, 2016

Kite Runner at The Rep Birmingham

Kite Runner at The Rep Birmingham Kite Runner at The Rep Birmingham
Updated: 4:57 pm, May 12, 2015

EVERYONE has a story but The Kite Runner is one that just has to be told.

Adapted from Khaled Hosseini’s best-selling 2003 novel, it is a tale of family, friendship, love and war, but most importantly, of one man’s bid for forgiveness and redemption.

With Afghanistan on the verge of becoming a divided country, childhood friends Amir and Hassan enjoy nothing more than spending their days reading and kite fighting.

As the son of Ali – Amir’s father’s servant – Hassan is a successful ‘kite runner’ who will do anything to protect his best friend – including standing up to the town’s bully Assef.

But following Amir’s victory in the annual kite running tournament, neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon – and how it will go on to shatter both their lives in the future.

Instantly dislikable, Nicholas Karimi thrives as villanous bully Assef while Andrei Costin gives an impressively understated performance as Hassan.

Ben Turner makes the transition between young Amir and grown up Amir seemlessly with his narration serving to guide the audience through the complex story.

The only criticism – if you can call it that – is the fact there are no actual kites on show during the infamous kite battle.

But given the potential difficulties of staging such a scene, Matthew Spangler’s clever use of instruments and convincing acting mean the audience don’t feel they are missing out.

Following an impressive first act, the second picks up the pace even more as the action switches from the poverty-stricken streets of Kabul to the bright lights of America.

And as Amir does his best to atone for his past sins, we once more see the softer side of his character, which is fuelled by an incessant need to please his father – even on his deathbed.

Without giving too much away, it’s safe to say the story continues in the same vein before coming full circle to reach a suitable and satisfying conclusion.

All in all it’s a wonderful show, which toys with your emotions without making you feel guilty for it.

The book has been well-adapted and Hanif Khan’s impressive music playing only serves to add atmosphere without taking away from any of the ambience.

Basic staging and minimal props help keep the audience’s focus on the characters, which, in an emotional tale such as this, is exactly where it should be.

And despite the small cast, they all do well in their individual roles with Andrei Costin and Ben Turner particular stand out performances for me.

Having devoured the book less than a year ago, I was worried the stage show wouldn’t live up to the hype. Ultimately though, I shouldn’t have worried.

And if the cast keep turning in performances like this, one thing’s for sure, like the kites – this show will run and run.

The Kite Runner is showing at The Birmingham Repertory Theatre until Monday October 4.

Visit www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/event/the-kite-runner to buy tickets.

Laura Maltby

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