I’ve not read Khaled Hosseini’s novel, I’ve not watched the film and I missed the stage production when it arrived at Theatr Clwyd last year. I had heard rave reviews and so I was thankful that this time round I would be blessed enough to see the stage production…and I wasn’t to be disappointed. The reviews from friends and strangers were spot on. The production was spellbinding and a superior history lesson than either the media or the classroom could give you.
The Kite Runner commenced life as a novel by Khaled Hosseini and it tells the story of Amir and his best friend Hassan (who is also his servant). Kabul was a tranquil place, people lived in harmony experiencing a conventional way of life. Privileged families would attend lavish weddings, full of colour and splendour and take family picnics in the foothills of the Hindu Kush to escape the heat of the city.
Kite flying, which probably originated in China about 3000 years ago, was turned it into an art form in Afghanistan, by taking on a different competitive twist. Enjoyed by both men and boys, this was a competition that was less bloody than dog fighting and very cheap, so anyone had the opportunity to join in. A person would just need some bamboo to make a frame and some brightly coloured tissue paper to stretch across it. For those with money, they could visit the Kabul bazaar where professional kite makers would hand down their skills from father to son. Tiny pieces of crushed glass would be painstakingly glued to the kite string for competitors to slash their opponent’s kite string, bringing their kites crashing to the ground. The poorest boys, such as Hassan, would rush to collect the losing kite for their friend or master – these were the kite runners.
Matthew Spangler’s stage adaptation of the novel is told in the first-person narrative through the eyes of Amir (David Ahmad.) His tale which starts in Afghanistan as a child, transitions through to adulthood where he is living in America and it transports us through a harrowing journey of life and intimate relationships: father/son, best friends, husband and wife.