The Kite Runner at Wyndham’s Theatre
The Kite Runner cuts down the prejudice and racism of Trump era politics and wins our hearts by reminding us what it means to be human. As the crowds flooded out of the theatre following a well-deserved standing ovation, a woman groaned, “How cruel people are”. Her criticism of humans is equally the play’s triumph: the show portrays the cruelty seen daily in the Middle East but prevents audiences from gazing at people from this region as if they are inherently different. Cultures, music and languages are mixed on stage, painting a landscape of humanity.
The play flows like a visualisation of protagonist Amir’s memory. He looks back on his childhood in Afghanistan with his servant and friend Hassan and their love of kite running. The loss of his innocence is mirrored in the world around him, which is crumbling under religious turmoil and war. Projections represent different locations rather than the use of large set changes, creating the sense of memories flowing into each other and the foundations of Amir’s life never really altering. Traditional Afghani music accompanies action within scenes set in that country and also in Afghani sectors of San Francisco. The music of the Western 80s exaggerates the cultural shift between Afghanistan and America as Amir and his father are forced to leave their home, reminding the audience of how disorienting moving from one country to the other must be. A huge canvas kite occasionally spreads itself out, keeping the innocent game in the background even when violence dominates the foreground.
Ben Turner gives an engaging performance, playing both the older and younger Amir; at no point are viewers allowed to forget that he is looking back and, in a sense, tortured by his past. Andrei Costin is exceptional as both Hassan and Sohrab; the intensity and feeling behind his performance intensifies Amir’s guilt. All the cast are credible and accents are consistent. The use of different languages on stage, without translation, is equally original and prevents theatregoers from falling into the trap of seeing the Western world imposed on every culture.
Adaptor and director Giles Croft has done the book justice and the show retains much of the cultural colour and potency. The production does not preach or shrink away from violence: this is a play of life in the direst situations and how hope and love can help us survive.
Photos: Robert Workman
The Kite Runner is at Wyndham’s Theatre from 21st December 2016 until 11th March 2017. Book your tickets here.
Watch the trailer for The Kite Runner here: