top of page

The Kite Runner - Review

Updated: Apr 17

Based on Khaled Hosseini’s 2003 novel, ‘The Kite Runner’ is a poignant theatrical drama on a UK tour following a successful Broadway and West-End run. Adapted by Matthew Spangler and directed by Giles Croft, the play mirrors its literary and cinematic counterparts, weaving a haunting narrative of friendship that traverses religions and continents. At its heart lies the journey of Amir’s quest for redemption through confronting his past. Yet, unlike its predecessors, the stage adaptation adopts a more subdued approach, tactfully hinting at graphic violence and staging the darker moments offstage — a choice that makes the production more palatable to a wider audience.  

The Kite Runner Play
Hanif Khan (left), Stuart Vincent, Dean Rehman, Christopher Glover (right)

As the show begins, the stage is bathed in beautiful lighting and traditional percussion music performed live. We meet a young Amir and his best friend Hassan in the capital city of Kabul, alive with excitement of the upcoming kite flying tournament. However, Afghanistan is on the brink of war, and the bonds of friendship are about to be tested like never before. In a sudden and unforeseen turn of events, tragedy strikes, irrevocably altering the characters trajectory. The story unfolds, immersed in culture, navigating the delicate balance between joy and heartbreak, leaving a profound impact on even the most hard-hearted spectators.  


The protagonist, Amir, is the only character to break the fourth wall and talk to the audience, which is fitting as he grows up authoring short stories and publishing a novel. Stuart Vincent’s portrayal of Amir, spanning from childhood to adulthood, is nothing short of remarkable, capturing the character’s essence with finesse. One of the real joys of this production is it avoids flashy gimmicks in favour of narrative depth, it is a masterclass in storytelling — something that Vincent does effortlessly throughout the performance. Amir’s father, known as Baba, is a respected businessman in Afghanistan who has to rebuild his life after he and his son seek asylum in America. Dean Reham’s portrayal of Baba exudes authority, commanding both Amir and the audiences respect from the outset; Reham is truly fascinating to watch.

The Kite Runner Play
The cast of The Kite Runner

Bhavin Bhatt delivers a mesmerising performance as the villain of the story, Assef, a young bully turned Taliban supporter. Bhatt is captivating to watch, his portrayal is so deeply immersive that Assef feels unsettlingly real — a testament to Bhatt’s talent and commitment. Indeed, the entire cast delivers stellar performances. Despite the approximately two-and-a-half-hour runtime, the show unfolds with such gripping intensity that time seems to fly by. The narrative is a rollercoaster of continuous twists and turns, I lost count of the number of times the reveals caused me goosebumps, it is no exaggeration to say I spent most of my time on the edge of my seat. With its brisk pacing and unpredictable storyline, the production never loses momentum, ensuring an exhilarating and thoroughly engaging experience.  


Special recognition is due to the masterminds behind the show’s sound production: Musical Director Johnathan Girling and Sound Designer Drew Baumohl. Their meticulous craft enriches the theatrical experience, as the soundscape created not only provides a sense of geography but also plays a pivotal role in shaping tension. Hanif Khan’s tabla playing sets the pace, offering a diverse array of tempos that drive the performance. The strategic use of wind wands builds crescendos that heighten the impact of key moments, while the haunting resonance of the disharmonic singing bowls mirrors the turmoil of Amir’s disorganised thoughts, enveloping the audience in an atmosphere of unease.  

The Kite Runner Play
Yazdan Qafouri (left) and Stuart Vincent (right)

The Kite Runner is a show expertly performed by the cast, meticulously crafted by a well-informed crew, based on a phenomenally interesting story. I wholeheartedly recommend catching this captivating production on tour, as it offers not only breathtaking storytelling but also a profound glimpse into Afghan culture beyond the limited scope of the media portrayal. Do not miss the opportunity to experience this unforgettable journey firsthand. The show will continue its run at the Nottingham Playhouse until April 20th, with the tour concluding on July 6th, 2024.  

The Kite Runner Artwork
The Kite Runner Artwork



bottom of page