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REVIEW - The Kite Runner is thought-provoking, deeply moving and captivating


On Wednesday, we were invited to The Lowry to see The Kite Runner. Our reviewer, Lizzie Johnston loved this production. Read what she thought of the play...

The Kite Runner, a well-known bestselling novel and a Broadway hit, has returned to the UK and last night it took to the Lyric theatre stage at The Lowry. Despite being a popular title, the book is one I’m not familiar with nor had much idea about, though the online synopsis for the show left me intrigued with what I was in for. 

I arrived at a buzzy auditorium and took to my seat whilst Hanif Khan, a tabla player, welcomed us in with echoing beats around the room, a score that would continue throughout the duration of the show. The story itself is one of friendship, betrayal and redemption as Amir, played by Stuart Vincent (The Play That Goes Wrong, The Kite Runner, Romeo and Juliet), takes us through his life and journey from Kabul to San Francisco, with a captivating performance of Khaled Hosseini's acclaimed novel. 

Stuart Vincent’s portrayal of Amir was honest and gripping as he played the character with great depth. It was a real rollercoaster of emotions from excitement as a child to the crushing guilt he felt as an adult. As Amir is a storyteller throughout the show, Vincent was excellent at dissociating and jumping out of the scene to update the audience on his feelings and thoughts. The second half, which focuses on his time in America and life as an adult, was the strongest half as he tapped back into those childhood feelings, giving the character multiple layers and showing the audience how his childhood trauma was still affecting his present life. 

Playing Amir’s father Baba, Dean Rehman (Everyman, Idle, They Yammer), made the duo a strong but small family, once again with several layers to unravel as the story played out. You could really feel the emotions and see that he also was holding onto guilt and secrets from his past, which he never spoke about and kept from his son, even as he aged and became ill. As a dynamic duo, the father and son relationship was a difficult but strong one, you could tell they really cared for each other yet they were never fully happy. 

The staging was simple yet effective with lights helping to change the environment and feeling, from a rustic Kabul to the high rise buildings of American cities. The dimming of lights was used to hone into the characters and spotlight the heartbreaking events they were experiencing, it also reflected the frightening situation they were in. Compared to the bright, multicoloured lights used for their arrival in America which emphasised the relief the characters felt upon their arrival, that they had made it safely across the world. 

It was the use of sound and instruments that was a standout for me. Sound Baths were used to create and build up tension, and it really did, they would start with a single one and then multiple would be dotted on the sides of the stage which echoed and filled the room with a constant vibrating sound. Only live music was used when the story was set in Kabul, whereas San Fransisco played jukebox music, once again spotlighting the difference between the two places. 

The whole cast was brilliant, with Yazdan Qafuri (The Lord of The Rings, Othello, Rumi) playing Amir’s friend Hassan, and Tiran Aakel (The EU Killed My Dad, The Girl On The Train, The Mother of Kamal) playing his father Ali, who were both utterly loyal and ridiculously brave, performances which were just heartbreaking. The friendship between Amir and Hassan is the heart of the narrative and their chemistry together and complex relationship allows the show to explore themes of privilege and guilt. 

Despite having uplifting moments, this show is not one for a cheery evening out. It’s thought-provoking and tests the emotions of the audience. The cast give their all, sharing the raw emotions featured throughout the story, which the whole audience enjoyed. 

It’s not essential to know the book or have an idea of the storyline as the show was easy to follow with the narration. It captivates and grips you, taking you on the ups and downs of their lives, sharing poignant moments and not shying away from giving truthful performances of these awful events. It’s a triumph of storytelling and stagecraft, offering the audience a deeply moving experience. 


The Kite Runner is on at The Lowry, Salford until Saturday 11th May 2024.



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