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REVIEW: The Kite Runner at Newcastle Theatre Royal

The Kite Runner

Newcastle Theatre Royal

Until Saturday 29 June 2024.

A powerful play based upon Afghan-American novelist Khaled Hosseini's 2003 book The Kite Runner has returned to the Newcastle Theatre Royal this week after a successful run in 2018. It is a rollercoaster of emotions and shows how powerful the medium of drama can be in the art of storytelling.

Stuart Vincent appears as the central character and narrator Amir. The first act is very much about his childhood in 1970s Kabul. His best friend is Hassan (Yazdan Qafouri), who is the son of their servant Ali (Tiran Aakel), and he is an excellent kite runner. We are given a brief insight into this sport and the programme has further details which are well worth looking into. Amir's Dad Baba (Dean Rehman) has raised him alone since his mother died in childbirth. Thus the scenario is set up for act one - Amir having privilege being friends with Hassan who is dependant upon his family.

Act one takes us through the transformation of Afghanistan from a monarchy to a republic, though most of the politics is incidental to the boys life. At this stage the play had a feel, in my opinion, similar to that of Dennis Potter's Blue Remembered Hills, when adults act in the role of children.

Act two brings with it the transformation of the country as the Russians arrive - the resultant war resulting in a move, via Pakistan, to the United States. But blood runs thicker than water and Amir finds himself heading back to the country, which was under the rule of the Taliban by this point.

The play is very much through Amir's eyes and opinions as he grows up over the approximately 30 year period. A large supporting cast appear in diverse roles from the childhood bully through to the ex-pat community that surrounds the US marketplace that they make a living at. In concentrating on one journey you have a variety of highs and lows, anger and peace plus plenty of moral dilemma too. The audience are very much asked to walk in Amir's shoes.

The central role by Stuart Vincent is very strong as he is ever present on the stage as Amir. The supporting cast work hard to keep the story flowing though I would have liked to have seen more from the excellent Daphne Kouma, as his wife Soraya, as that role was full of more promise than the script ultimately developed.

The staging is almost Shakespearean as few props are needed to illustrate the show. The set design (Barney George) allowing the action to flow without a break as the story moves from one era to the next. This helps keep the pace up - though the narrator never gets a break!

A word of praise must also go for sound design (Drew Baumohl) and Tabla player Hanif Khan who combine to help project the tone of the show in a wonderful way. The music really helped set the show up.

Kite Runner is important as a piece of theatre as it tells an important story, which in election year as certain issues keep coming up, needs to be told. Strong acting and well guided direction from Giles Croft combine to create a sound piece of theatre.

Review: Stephen Oliver


The Kite Runner plays Newcastle Theatre Royal: Tuesday 25 – Saturday 29 June 2024. Tickets can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.

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