Heading for the Norwich Theatre Royal stage from March 5-10 is a compelling story of friendship which spans cultures, continents and three decades across modern history in a stunning adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s award-winning novel The Kite Runner.
Hosseini’s novel, which sold 31.5 million copies in 60 languages and became a successful film adaptation in 2007, has been adapted for the stage by American playwright Matthew Spangler. The show enjoyed two acclaimed West End seasons playing to over 100,000 people and is now it is on a nationwide tour, thrilling audiences with its emotionally powerful presentation.
The story throughout is narrated by the character of Amir who grows from a small boy to an adult in the course of the play. The action opens with Amir and his closest friend, Hassan, the son of his father’s faithful servant, joyfully taking part in a kite running competition, a popular and highly competitive sport in Afghanistan for men and boys.
During the kite run, Amir witnesses Hassan being brutalised in an horrific incident, and then he compounds the damage by telling a damning lie. The guilt follows him into a new life with his family in America where he settles as part of an ex-pat Afghan community and marries – until finally he returns to his homeland to try to put the lie to rest and to
The cast features Raj Ghatak in the central role as the show’s narrator, Amir. Raj played Sweetie in Bombay Dreams in the West End and was nominated Best Actor and Best Supporting Performance in a Musical. He has also appeared in Miss Meena and the Masala Queens (UK tour) and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (Sheffield Crucible), while television credits include Tom Hardy’s Taboo and the BAFTA-nominated Dead Set.
Hassan is played by Jo Ben Ayed who is in his first major professional role since graduating from East 15 Acting School in Essex. Other cast members include Gary Pillai (Baba), Sorosh Lavasin (Assef), Ravi Aujla (General Taheri) and Amiera Darwish (Soraya).
In addition to its compelling storyline, The Kite Runner also throws a light on Afghan culture and takes the audience on an educational as well as an emotional journey. There is live music from onstage from international professional tabla performer Hanif Khan who has worked with some of the leading exponents of Indian classical music and performed before Prince Phillip, Prince Charles and Sir Paul McCartney. The tabla is a classical South Asian percussion instrument consisting of two drums, while other classical instruments from the region, such as Tibetan Singing Bowls, are amongst an array of additional accompaniments provided by the cast.
There is also a traditional wedding scene with Afghan songs and sumptuous costumes, and the action moves from Afghanistan to America with an insight into how difficult immigrant communities can find it to integrate into a new country and culture.
Director Giles Croft (The Glass Menagerie, Any Means Necessary, Tony’s Last Tape, Forever Young and Arcadia) said audiences watching The Kite Runner for the first time are “profoundly moved by it”. “The response is always extraordinarily powerful and we are fortunate to get standing ovations at every performance, with audiences connecting deeply and emotionally with the characters and the story,” he said.
It is, he strongly believes, a story with universal resonance: “It speaks to all people through the core themes of guilt, forgiveness and redemption. Those are things that we all have some connection with. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, it will speak to you.”