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The Kite Runner

May 28th - June 1st

 

“THERE IS A WAY TO BE GOOD AGAIN”

Direct from Broadway, The Kite Runner, an outstanding and unforgettable theatrical tour de force is returning to the UK in 2024.

Based on Khaled Hosseini’s international bestselling novel, adapted by Mathew Spangler and directed by Giles Croft, this haunting tale of friendship spans cultures and continents and follows one man’s journey to confront his past and find redemption.

Afghanistan is a country on the verge of war and best friends are about to be torn apart. It’s a beautiful afternoon in Kabul, the skies are full of colour and the streets are full of the excitement of a kite flying tournament, but no one can foresee the terrible incident that will shatter their lives forever.

One Broadway season and two West End seasons have garnered international acclaim for this incredibly powerful story, don’t miss it.

“Enormously moving, satisfying, and soulful’ New York Post

“Engrossing and captivating” Wall Street Journal

“The best page to stage show since War horse…a spellbinding production” The Stage

Running time: 2 hours 35 minutes (including interval)


Age guidance: 13+ – contains mature content not suitable for young audiences including: strong language, depictions of bullying, sexual violence, suicide, the use of weapons and the sound of gunshots.


ACCESS PERFORMANCES:

BSL INTERPRETED

The performance on Wednesday 29th May at 7.30pm is BSL interpreted.  For the best view of the interpreter please choose low numbered seats towards the front right-hand side of the Stalls (as you face the stage).  For further information or advice please email zoeH@malvern-theatres.co.uk or contact the Box Office on 01684 892277 (Monday – Saturday, 10.30am-8pm).


AUDIO DESCRIPTION & TOUCH TOUR

The performance on Friday 31st May at 7.30pm will be Audio Described.

There will also be a touch tour prior to this performance at 5pm.

Advanced booking is essential. Please contact the Box Office on 01684 892277 to book, or contact Toby Burchell (Tobyb@malvern-theatres.co.uk/01684 580939) for more information.



Photo credit: Barry Rivett for Hotshot Photography.

Details

Start:
May 28th
End:
June 1st
Event Categories:
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Venue

Festival Theatre
Grange Road
Malvern, WR14 3HB

Other

Price:
Tuesday Evening & Wednesday Matinee: £35.84, £33.60, £30.24, £26.88 & £23.52
Wednesday – Thursday Evening & Saturday Matinee: £38.08, £35.84, £32.48, £29.12 & £25.76
Friday & Saturday Evening: £40.32 & £38.08, £34.72, £31.36 & £28
Members discounts apply
Under 26s £16.80
Prices include 12% booking fee
Show Times:
Tuesday 28th May - Saturday 1st June
Evenings at 7.30pm, Wednesday & Saturday matinees at 2.30pm

Event Reviews

  • The View From the Stalls

    A stunning portrayal of a country and its people in turmoil

    A decade ago, a show came to Malvern which we reviewed very favourably: “Sometimes a show can just blow you away… leaving the audience spellbound and the talented cast thoroughly deserved the standing ovation. Brilliant theatre on a far from common topic and culture”.

    That show was The Kite Runner and it is back on stage this week in a version adapted by Matthew Spangler from the best-selling novel by Khaled Hosseini. Hosseini lives now in San Francisco and the story details his younger life in Afghanistan and how he came to be living in the States. It is a story of friendship, love, childhood dreams, religious intolerance, sadness and above all, betrayal and shame. It is a story which is stunningly portrayed.

    Life back in the early 1970s was relatively peaceful for Amir, the central character, and his friend (and servant) Hassan. Having different ethnicities was not a particular problem for the pair as they were just kids who enjoyed mock gunfights, pretending to be John Wayne and especially kite flying. This was, until it was banned by the Taliban, a common pastime involving flying kites where the string itself is the key to success, covered as it was in small pieces of cut glass allowing the flyer to swoop down on his competitor’s kite and slice through the string. The person who collected the spoils (in this case Hassan) was the Kite Runner.

    Hassan (Yazdan Qafouri) is a meek and obviously devoted friend of Amir (Stuart Vincent) who would do anything for him which leads ultimately to his downfall and both actors play their parts superbly. The story is narrated directly to the audience by an adult Amir so Vincent has to play the dual role of adult and child, which works very well. It is not only Hassan who must carry shame throughout his life but his father Baba too (played by Dean Rehman) who retains a secret until the end of his days. Many of the cast are involved in the kite flying scenes on stage – simple but very effective – and transform themselves from Afghans to all-American kids in Act Two where the story moves to the States, along with a brief interlude of 1980s disco music. Other than that, much of the music is played live on a tabla by Hanif Khan, even as the audience are arriving (a rare case of a round of applause being earned and given before the show actually starts!).

    Afghanistan is typically depicted negatively but by starting the story in more innocent times after many decades of peace before revolution replaced the King, Soviet invasion and the Taliban’s unerring strict control, it at least gives an impression of life as it was and how it could be. As in the novel, it does not shy away from controversy for those individuals who wish to make it controversial, containing as it does what may be deemed offensive and sexually-explicit acts and language and a portrayal of ethnic-based bullying.

    Whilst not claiming to be autobiographical, the story reflects many of Hosseini’s own experiences of growing up and leaving his country of birth. It is gratifying to see such a large audience enjoy a show about a totally different culture even on the first night and they gave to show a well-deserved standing ovation.

  • Fairy Powered Productions - Courie Amado Juneau

    All I knew about tonight’s play was that it was exceptionally well regarded. I was to find out how justified that reputation was…

    Beginning with Hanif Khan perfectly setting the scene with some fabulous tabla playing engulfing us instantly in the Afghanistan cultural milieu. Music plays a vital part in the proceedings – the singing bowls being particularly affecting (and what a great name for an instrument!).

    The lead actor, Stuart Vincent playing Amir, was on stage all the time, always fully engaging with a massive range of emotions conveyed and he did it all perfectly throughout. This role could have been overdone but he was pitch perfect, sweeping us along into his inner turmoil in all it’s dazzling complexity.

    The principle relationships orbiting our lead; his friend Hassan (Yazdan Qafouri), father (Dean Rehman) and wife Soraya (Daphne Kouma) were scripted and acted flawlessly, with a degree of compassion that spoke volumes. We genuinely cared about them all as they were wrought with sensitively and intelligence, in full technicolour widescreen. Stunning performances!

    Christopher Glover (playing Rahim Kahn and Omar Faisal) had my favourite line in the entire piece: (speaking of a love across the religious divide), “…it was us against the rest of the world”, “what happened?” asked Amir… I won’t spoil the surprise but his answer gave insights into our shared human condition and truly elevates this play into a work of art.

    Bhavin Bhatt as bully Assef gave us a masterclass in emotionally turning on a sixpence, going from ingratiating to menacing instantly with the briefest of looks. A shockingly effective performance. In truth, the entire cast was exceptional with all deserving a mention but due to word count limitations… I will highlight Tiran Aakel playing Ali as every scene he was in was graced with his presence.

    With its abstract strips transformed with some clever lighting and back projection into an Israeli West Bank or Mexican/US style border or a city skyline, the set was highly inventive. Draped panels that swung down evoked the Afghan world with an admirable simplicity and character all its own.

    This story doesn’t shy away from the more disturbing aspects of human nature – especially the way that we can judge someone as inferior due to religious or cultural differences. Also the truly troubling aspects of how the dehumanizing of others can allow for atrocities and mass populous justification causing cultural myopia to the suffering of our brothers (and sisters) aka fellow human beings. It makes one question many of the assumptions we have regarding the big themes of our time – war, refugees, cultural values.. The play has plenty of humour in it too, giving it a balance that did it credit – it never feels heavy, despite the subject matter.

    The audience was held riveted in rapt attention throughout! Sparkling performances from the actors, a scintillating production and a tale that needs to be told in these dark times all added up to a vital night at the theatre. Seeing it made me want to read the original novel (by Khaled Hosseini) so all kudos to Matthew Spangler for a masterful adaptation. I cannot recommend this work highly enough. A phenomenal achievement from all concerned.

  • British Theatre Guide - Colin Davison

    I cannot think of many plays that hit you in the stomach as hard as Matthew Spangler’s adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s best-selling novel does even before the interval. Knowing what is coming, it still makes me reel.

    The pivotal event that drives the plot takes place in Afghanistan in 1975. Amir (Stuart Vincent) is the 12-year-old son of a wealthy Pashtun businessman, who has grown up with their servant Ali’s son Hassan (Yazdan Qafouri), who come from the minority, abused Hazari people. Hassan is Amir's best friend and prized runner in the annual kite-cutting festival, but after Hassan has successfully found and recovered the defeated kite, he is ambushed. Amir fails to protect him from being raped, and is so ashamed to face him that he contrives to frame him for theft, with the result that both father and son are forced to leave—with terrible consequences.

    The success of the piece hangs largely on the two principal actors, both of whom are entirely convincing here in difficult roles. There is little to commend Amir, privileged, too ready to exploit his power over Hassan even before the breathtaking betrayal, but Vincent, in hunch-shouldered surrender to those around him, manages to win understanding if not approval for the actions of this weak-willed wimp. Only in a final confrontation some years later with his reactionary father-in-law does he seem to rise to his full height and achieve some dignity.

    Like Vincent, Qafouri has the ability to make one believe one is watching a 10- or 12-year-old boy. His loyalty is touching, his bravery inspiring, and the moment of his false confessesion to the theft, in order to prevent his friend being caught in a lie, is heart-breaking. Qafouri never raises his voice, and seldom his eyes—blessed are the meek, blessed the pure in heart.

    The second part of the play deals more with the politics, in particular the horrors later inflicted upon innocent Afghan citizens, by the Taliban, exemplified by Bhavin Bhatt, neighbourhood bully turned casual killer, who seems to convey brutality in every bristle.

    A strong supporting cast also includes Dean Rehman as Amir’s forthright, upright father and Christopher Glover as his friend Rahim, a solid example of the old Afghanistan before its take-over by extremists. Music is now just one of the many freedoms they have destroyed, so it was both pleasant and poignant to hear the percussive sounds of the country that form a background to much of the action, with the virtuoso tabla playing of Hanif Khan front of stage.

  • Plutonium Sox

    If you didn’t know the story of The Kite Runner, you could be forgiven for thinking early on in the play that this was an upbeat retelling of Amir’s happy childhood. He recounts his brotherly relationship with Hassan despite their differences in culture and social status.

    As the performance progresses, it takes a notably darker turn. From the day of the kite tournament, the realities of living in war-torn Afghanistan are portrayed. Full of guilt for his failure to act to save Hassan from his fate, Amir treats him poorly and Hassan and his father leave.

    Displacement and genocide don’t discriminate between rich families like Amirs and other citizens, and Amir and Baba flee to America. Leaving Afghanistan isn’t the end of Amir’s heartbreak and despite a few laughs, the tone generally remains dark.

    This is an extremely gripping production and you could have heard a pin drop in the audience throughout. With a strong focus on relationships between characters, you become invested early on in the bond between Amir and Hassan. Equally absorbing is Amir’s turbulent upbringing at the hands of his father.

    Whilst the story focuses fully on Amir, all the characters are emotionally charged and you can’t fail to relate to them and their struggles. The Kite Runner is one of the best plays I’ve seen in a long time.

  • A View from Behind the Arras - Tim Crow

    This gripping dramatisation of Khaled Hosseini’s novel is an outstanding theatrical achievement. The novel has a long and complex plot and capturing this in a stage production is a challenge that is well met in this performance.

    The story is of two young Afghan boys who are inseparable at the outset. One, Amir, is the privileged son of a successful landowner and businessman. The other, Hassan, is the son of the father’s servant who has the remarkable and distinct gift of being an outstanding kite-runner, or kite retriever. He enables Amir to win the prize at the kite-running tournament in Kabul.

    However, this success provokes the jealousy of some local bullies whose vile conduct brings about a severance in the boys’ close friendship owing to Amir’s cowardice.

    The story unfolds across decades in which Afghanistan experiences civil conflict, the Soviet invasion and the brutality of the Taliban regime thereafter. Amir and his father escape as refugees to the USA, but Amir’s guilt and shame and his struggle to sense his father’s approval are powerfully dramatised through Amir’s role as both narrator and protagonist.

    The atmosphere of the evening is immediately established by the Afghan playing the drums, and later other percussion instruments, as the audience are entering the auditorium. His talent evoked spontaneous applause as the play begins. He was responsible for powerful sound effects throughout the performance.

    Stuart Vincent (Amir) and Yasdan Qafouri (Hassan) communicate the boys’ childishness at the outset and develop their physical performance to establish their later development. Yasdan’s stillness and enduring loyalty under the worst provocation is very moving.

    Dean Rehman plays the part of Amir’s father, Baba, brilliantly, ageing as the show develops. Daphne Kouma is Soraya, Amir’s loyal wife when he matures in the USA. Likewise her performance was excellent.

    The performance of the cast is very well set against a simple but effective set designed by Barney George reflecting the skyline of San Francisco; the use of giant wings flown in from above at certain moments was brilliant. The kite theme was similarly conveyed well by projections, mime and occasional physical props. Giles Croft brings the whole production together in a supremely successful show.

    The universal themes of friendship, loyalty, hypocrisy, cowardice, guilt and shame, forgiveness, redemption and new hope are powerfully explored in this very emotional, passionate and dramatic production with moments of extreme poignancy.

  • What's On Live: Worcestershire - Sue Hull

    Watching The Kite Runner being performed live on stage last night made for an utterly absorbing experience.

    Adapted from Afghan American author Khaled Hosseini’s harrowing yet poignant bestselling novel (which was made into a critically acclaimed film in 2007), the stage version premiered 15 years ago.

    The Kite Runner is a beautiful but disturbing, compelling and uplifting story of an unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy - Amir - and the son of his father’s servant - Hassan. Set in the 1970s against the backdrop of war-torn Afghanistan - and providing a perspective on the country’s tragic past through the eyes of Amir - it takes its audience on an unforgettable and heartbreaking journey, along the way exploring the themes of atonement and redemption.

    Much of the tale is narrated by Amir, rather than acted, the plot moving along at a tremendous pace. Stuart Vincent, who plays Amir, switches between telling the story and taking part in the action at different stages of his character’s life. From a child, to a teenager, to an adult in his 30s, Vincent brilliantly uses movement and vocal inflection to portray Amir at different times in his development. As he does so, he also perfectly captures a sense of his suffering - a suffering caused by the disloyalty he has shown toward Hassan (Yazdan Qafouri). The impact of a cowardly decision, made in fear, not only haunts him but also underpins the whole story.

    The Kite Runner is distressing and tough to watch, with horrific tragedies and acts of violence much in evidence. With little in the way of respite provided, the atmosphere is very sombre. The small cast of 12 actors move almost seamlessly between characters, each of them giving an incredibly moving performance as they bring to life this emotionally gripping story.

    Simplicity is the essence of the show. Sets are minimal. Clever use of lighting and sound helps identify Kabul, Pakistan and San Francisco, where the story unfolds.

    The live tabla (Indian drums), played on stage throughout the performance, are used to underscore many scenes whilst reinforcing a sense of Afghan identity (Hanif Khan has not only been the resident tabla player on The Kite Runner since 2013, he also helped create the original soundtrack for this current adaptation).

    Beautiful descriptions of the kite-flying festival are played out with puppet-like kites and handheld wind-imitating devices, while images of flying kites, simultaneously projected onto the backdrop, give the illusion of hundreds more kites filling the stage.

    The famous advice to authors seeking authenticity is to ‘write what you know’. In The Kite Runner, Amir wants to be a writer too. “Sad stories make good books,” his future wife tells him. In this case, they also make for a challenging but exceptional play.

  • Liz

    Very moving and thought provoking. Brilliantly done.


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