The Kite Runner
Written by Hattie Banfield
Matthew Spangler’s adaptation of Khaled Housseini’s The Kite Runner fourteen years after its publication, achieves a dramatic new retelling of Amir’s life (played and narrated by Raj Ghatak) and the political turmoil of Afghanistan in the 1970s and 80s.
The play begins with Tabla player Hanif Khan performing a short percussive piece. This, from the offset, places the audience in an Afghan setting; impressively establishing the location through music rather than narrative. We are then introduced to Amir, now an adult and living in San Francisco, who begins to narrate his experience of Afghanistan as a young Pashtun boy and his childhood friend Hussan, a Hazara. Housseini’s novel addresses the overt racism towards the Hazara people by the Pashtun’s, and Amir’s institutionalised belief that Hussan is not his friend, but his Hazara servant. Spangler approaches this in a way which manages to portray Housseini’s message in a condensed manner; expertly portraying Hussan’s loyalty and Amir’s childhood naivety and cruelty through a number of lines.
The novel centres around the winter Afghan tradition of kite flying which Amir longs to win in order to receive his father’s approval. Spangler’s staging of the kite fliers and spectators facing the audience is commendable, allowing the audience to view the smiling enthusiasm of the characters; a perfect juxtaposition to the following despair which Afghanistan finds itself in. Following this, a series of betrayals from Amir towards Hussan conceive a darker tone for the play, proceeding in the second act with the beginning of war.
The end scene of the play is perhaps the most outstanding part. Amir is once again seen to be flying a kite, although this time as an adult in America. Spangler’s staging of the scene parallels the kite flying scene in Act 1, which is furthered by Amir’s final words being a repetition of a line delivered by Hussan. The heightened emotion which Amir’s final line incurs also emits an element of hope, not only for the characters, but for the future of their home country.
Spangler’s adaption of the play, directed by Giles Croft, is definitely one to watch, successfully delivering an emotional and thought provoking adaptation of Housseini’s best-selling novel. It is currently being shown in the Liverpool Playhouse from Feburary 27th-March 3rd 2018.
Information for the play can be found on their website: https://www.everymanplayhouse.com/whats-on/the-kite-runner-0