On a whim last Thursday I picked up a last minute ticket to the matinee of The Kite Runner at the Wyndhams Theatre and was blown away.
While storm Doris raged outside I sat in grand circle of the Wyndhams Theatre waiting for the lights to go down, and I do have to say that the creaks of the beautiful old building gave me flash of worry about collapsing ceilings! Nevertheless, I thought this particular theatre was perfect for The Kite Runner. It’s spacious and elegant enough to be everything you expect from a west end theatre, and yet there’s a real intimacy, which I think is needed for a gripping story like this.
I’d devoured the book in 5 days flat the week before seeing the play adaptation, and I have to say, I couldn’t put it down. I was that classic London commuter with my nose in a book through the entirety of my journey (plus a bit extra when I missed my stop!) It’s such a heart-wrenching story of self-reflection, and I think the real beauty in the writing is how Kaled Hosseini keeps the pace alive from page 1 to the end. Where in some books you get a bit of a mid-point lull where you realise you’ve been passing through chapters without really know what’s just happened, the Kite Runner keeps you flying.
I was surprised and absolutely delighted that Matthew Spangler’s stage adaptation was almost identical to the book. With just a few plot tweaks, the dialogue (which was still very fresh in my mind) was as written, and brought brilliant moments of comedy that I hadn’t anticipated.
Having the protagonist Amir as a narrator throughout meant that the audience got snapshots of his life, and he was able to fill in the gaps between the key moments of the story, which used the full cast. If I’m being super picky, a couple of the accents were a little confusing as they slipped into an Afghan/American slurs during childhood scenes in traditional Afghanistan, but the performances from each and every cast member were brilliantly sincere and well thought through.
Although, what struck me most about this production was the lighting and set. Incredibly simple, but so clever. A white rectangular rug in the centre of a sloping wooden stage becomes a blank canvas to paint Baba’s study, Amir’s bedroom, the flea market and the scene of Sohrab’s rescue. It’s a fantastically slick way to transport the audience through Amir’s snapshots without them really noticing.
This is most definitely a must-read book, with a must-see stage adaptation. It’s only on until 11 March 2017, so I highly recommend that you get yourself a ticket asap. (I got mine here.)