Theatre review: The Kite Runner at the @WYPlayhouse, Leeds

*Please don’t read this if you’re going to see the play*

The Blurb!

Khaled Hosseini’s debut novel The Kite Runner first hit the bookshelves in 2003 and became a best seller in the United States, voted the Reading Group Book of the Year for 2006 and 2007 before being made into a BAFTA and Golden Globe-nominated film in 2007.  Set against a backdrop of tumultuous events, from the fall of Afghanistan’s monarchy through the Soviet invasion, the exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the United States, and the rise of the Taliban regime, it charts a friendship that spans cultures and continents and follows one man’s journey to confront his past and find redemption. – see more about the cast here

This haunting tale of friendship spans cultures and continents and follows one man’s journey to confront his past and find redemption. Afghanistan is a divided country on the verge of war and childhood friends, Amir (Ben Turner – Casualty) and Hassan 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 boy scan foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives. Based on Khaled Hosseini’s international bestselling novel and film, this powerful and dramatic story leaves a lasting impression on anyone it touches.

-West Yorkshire Playhouse

Martin Dodd for UK Productions and Derek Nicol & Paul Waldenatic story leaves a lasting impression on anyone it touches.

Adapted by Matthew Spangler. Based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini. Directed by Giles Croft

for Flying Entertainment proudly present The Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company & Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Production.

http://www.wyp.org.uk/what%27s-on/2014/the-kite-runner/

My review

MV5BODcyNjY2MjEwM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODQ0MzI1MQ@@._V1_SX640_SY720_Where oh where do I begin. I still remember how this book made me feel when I read it back in 2011. I remember sitting there and gasping and saying out loud ‘oh no’ and almost being in floods of tears while the story unfolded. This was one of those reads that stayed with me for a while and put the question into my head of how on earth can this be made into a film let alone a play. The film was very good but didn’t have the same impact as the book. I haven’t read anything else by the author as at the time I didn’t think anything could compare and then other books got in the way. After the show last night I wanted to dig my copy out and re-read it hoping to capture the magic created by the play.

I was invited by Niamh to see this play, I didn’t even know it existed until a few weeks back and feel so lucky to have seen it, I really did not know what to expect. It’s such a big task adapting a book into a film or play, especially one that leaves an impact or that people love. To adapt it, is someone else’s version of a story and sometimes that can be a difficult challenge to get right. But this play did it! It was like watching the book come to life (yes cheesy I know)

“There is only one sin. and that is theft… when you tell a lie, you steal someones right to the truth.”

The theatre is “place for seeing,” where a story can come to life and you’re not just a spectator you become absorbed in the story as if you were there, and in this telling of The Kite Runner, I think it did just that. With the whole play narrated by the character Amir and interactions with other characters as the story went along, brought a sense of magic, belonging and hit hard at the heart strings.

It’s a story about greed, greed for love, to be wanted by the one person you look up to, in this case Amir’s father. Jealousy of other people’s relationships. Cowardice and selfishness to protect oneself even if it hurts someone we love.

As Amir grows up he constantly looks to gain respect and love from his father, He in return wishes his son to be more like Hassan the servant boy and not be so weak and have his head constantly stuck in books. But as he is told during a conversation with his life long servant ‘children aren’t colouring books, you can’t fill them in when you like’ and should be proud of his son Amir. Humans are funny creatures. We crave the need to be a parent, to have children to love and respect us, have what we didn’t, yet when they don’t turn out to be like us or the way we want them to then we treat them differently. The majority of actions taken by Amir to win his father’s affection leaves he friendship with Hassan in tatters and sets off a chain of events which not only affects him but everyone around him. Not realising until it’s to late what he truly has lost.

In recent years I have fallen deeply in love with the theatre, I have seen Goodnight Mr Tom, Sherlock Holmes, West side story, Oliver and via the cinema I have seen Frankenstein when the national theatre beamed live from London. Each performance living me awestruck, and forgetting I was sitting in a theatre in Leeds and not watching the TV at home. I became part of that story.This one was no exception. It just blew me out of the water. From the minimalist scenery, the white linen in the background with light projected onto it to denote scenes to the use of four wooden boxes to represent the car, this play didn’t need props, it was told simply through the characters, music and sound effects.  I do wonder sometimes if in today’s society with all the fancy technology, that a really good story can be missed. The simple act of narration through a fantastic actor who changed ages and emotions at a drop of a hat to  the actors costumes denoting power, such as the general or the coat of the servant. To the instruments used to create sounds of wind or the music played to accompany the story. All these elements are so simple yet have such an impact or what we experienced.

kite_runner_large“I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975. I remember the precise moment, crouching behind a crumbling mud wall, peeking into the alley near the frozen creek. That was a long time ago, but it’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.”

In the end this beautiful story was about redemption. How one act changed so many lives and how one act had to be done to try set it right in some way. As humans I find we punish ourselves in the most bizarre ways and over quite silly things sometimes. Amir wanting to love from his father is a common thing. It’s just the human failure of accepting others when they ‘don’t fit our ideals’ that ruins our relationships. If anything is to be learnt it’s to forget about trying to fit in and to accept who we are. Learn from others but realise our talents. Accept that we can’t do everything and we can’t be what others want. It just goes against the grain.

This play was simply beautiful, from the scenery to the way it was acted and told. So from me a big thanks to the cast for their stunning performance and to the West Yorkshire Playhouse for hosting it, and to Niamh for inviting me. It’s one fo my best experiences of 2014.

and in the end the approach to this story created the perfect recipe to leave everyone completely silent and some of us to give a standing ovation at the end.

Thank you for reading

xxx

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