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The Kite Runner - Nottingham Playhouse Review

Reviewed by Amber 
The tickets were gifted in return for an honest review

Impeccable acting, effective staging and entrancing live music blend together to weave Khaled Hosseini’s 2003 novel The Kite Runner into a hard-hitting play that doesn’t shy away from the hard-hitting topics. Despite a slightly disjointed first act, the second kicks up the pace and makes the 80-minute run time flash by.

Amir is a storyteller. He lives in San
 Francisco with his wife, Soraya (Daphne Kouma) and cocker spaniel. He’s fled his past, left the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan far behind him, and with it the memory of his servant/friend, Hassan, played by the endearing Yazden Qafouri.

Until one phone call on the last day of summer gives him the chance to be good again.

Barney George’s set is minimal, but what’s there encompasses the beauty of Kabul as Amir (Stuart Vincent) recalls it from his youth before the Soviet invasion twists and malforms his home countryThe edges of the stage curve upwards, reminding us of the cycles of abuse, shame and hope shown throughout the two-act play. It’s a set that says a lot with very little, visually aiding the storytelling that really takes centre stage in this production.

Vincent’s ability to captivate the auditorium with an honest, emotional and gripping performance as Amir, our narrator and protagonist, deserves high acclaim. Despite the character’s passiveness and dangerous flaws, we cannot help but sympathise and root for his story. 

Dean Rehman’s stellar performance as Baba, Amir’s stern father with an unflinching moral codewas a particular highlight, drawing tears and laughter alike as we bore witness to the character’s transformation; one of the richest merchants in Kabul to a gas station attendant selling secondhand items on the flea market for extra cash in the USA. 

Being familiar with the book is not at all necessary, with Matthew Spencer’s skill at adapting the novel transporting the key elements onto stage with little fuss for the omitted moments. The only issue to point out is that, for the sake of act one ending at the crux of drama, 

Amir’s childhood in Kabul, his relationship with Hassan and the beginnings of a paternal relationship between Rahim Khan (Christopher Glover) and Amir is hurried through, leaving some of the potential impact in the second act to the wayside.

entire play is underscored by tabula player Hanif Khan, who spends most of the time sat on stage, working tirelessly to add percussion to the story we are taken on. 

The play is a must see with a cast who perform their roles with a vice grip on the material, that only slightly suffers from an uneven focus between Amir’s childhood and adulthood in the first and second act respectively.


The Kite Runner plays at Nottingham Playhouse until 20/04/24. Tickets are available at tour runs until 6/07/2024, with venue information available here

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