Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Kite Runner

King's Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars
A lone tabla player ushers in Giles Croft's formidable production of
Matthew Spangler's adaptation of Khaled Hosseini's best-selling novel
with a frantic overture that points up the turmoil of the story's
Afghan origins. If the images of big city skyscrapers that loom behind
offer up some kind of salvation, the opening speech by the play's
narrator Amir is poetic enough to resemble a Tennessee Williams
monologue.

Worlds collide and cultures clash in far crueller ways over the next
two and a half hours, from the moment Amir plays cowboys with his
father's servant's son and best friend Hassan after watching John Wayne
films in the Iranian cinema in mid-1970s Kabul. Separated by class and
ethnicity, Amir and Hassan's fates are marked by a shocking childhood
event that sees Hassan brutalised, while Amir's shameful acquiescence
leaves him hard to sympathise with, let alone like.

What follows, as the Russian invasion of Afghanistan sees Amir and his
father flee to 1980s San Francisco, is a story of betrayal, identity,
heritage and redemption. Amir seeks only to prove himself worthy to his
father, a metaphor for a greater patriarchy powerfully and evocatively
delivered by Ben Turner as Amir.

Turner is onstage throughout this touring version of a production
originally presented by Nottingham and Liverpool Playhouses, and makes
for a charismatic presence as he leads a cast of ten through a
theatrical assault course of love and war. On a stage awash with images
of east and west, by the end things appear akin to a  Blood Brothers
for the post 9/11 world in a poignant study of emotional and political
exile.

The Herald, November 12th 2014

ends

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