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REVIEW: The Kite Runner (UK Tour, Glasgow 2024)

Updated: May 1

9 April 2024

Theatre Royal, Glasgow

⭐⭐⭐


The Kite Runner UK Tour review

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is a worldwide bestselling novel loved by millions of readers, myself included. It's a beautiful but harrowing tale of friendship set against the backdrop of war-torn Afghanistan.


A Nottingham Playhouse stage production based on the popular book played a limited run in London's West End in 2016 and 2017, and it is that production that is now touring to 16 venues across the UK and Ireland in 2024.


Amir (Stuart Vincent) is an Afghan refugee living in America who is plagued by guilt and remorse over his childhood spent in Kabul with his best friend Hassan (Yazdan Qafouri).


The boys are polar opposites of one another: Amir is rich, educated and Pashtun (the dominant ethnic group in Afghanistan) while Hassan is poor, illiterate and Hazara. Hassan is the son of Amir's father's servant and he dotes on Amir, but the class divide and social stigmas are always palpable. Looking back at their time flying kites in tournaments on the streets of Kabul, adult Amir remembers with clarity actions and events that have since dominated his life.


The cast of The Kite Runner play. Photo credit: Barry Rivett for Hotshot Photography

While I found the book to be fast paced and engrossing; the play fails to capture the same urgency and drama.


Told in the first person, Stuart Vincent does an excellent job of portraying protagonist Amir from childhood through to adulthood, and of telling us his story. Amir is a sympathetic and likable character, even though his choices are not always noble. The play is dialogue heavy and Vincent is on stage for much of the two and half hour run time. He's an engaging lead and has a lot of lines. I'll never cease to be amazed at how an actor can pull this off! It's a remarkable achievement and Vincent is a great choice to lead this show.


But The Kite Runner play does do a lot of telling us rather than showing us. There is one particular scene - the awful scene if you know the story - where I was very glad not to be shown what was happening. But at the same time, it is absolutely implied and perfectly obvious what dreadful act is taking place. There is no need for Amir to then tell us again what has just happened.


The original novel is so beautifully written by Khaled Hosseini, it has the room to develop the other characters and draw us into their world. I remember learning much about the Pashtun and Hazara cultures, and about the terrible events befalling Afghanistan. While the playwright Matthew Spangler does a fine job of including some of this, a 2 hour play can never hope to capture all of the detail that made the book so rich and the characters so captivating.


The simple staging is mostly effect but I felt it stunning at times and underwhelming at others. The costumes are gorgeous and the light and sound quality are top notch. The Kite Runner is a very quiet play, but the entire cast did a great job of projecting, and I didn't miss a single word. The cast play various instruments on stage too and a Tabla Player (Hanif Khan) sits front of stage and plays through most of the action. That's a lovely touch.


The story of The Kite Runner is unforgettable, and this UK tour cast are universally fantastic. The production doesn't quite live up to the splendour of the book for me, but it's by no means a bad show. (Please remember that 3 stars is a good review: above average!) But what it is however, is bleak. The play is tragedy after tragedy presented on stage with very little relief. It's a tough watch at times, and although ultimately a story of redemption, this is a show with a sombre atmosphere unlikely to lift your spirits.


Please take note of the age guidance and content warnings for this one.


⭐⭐⭐


📸 Production photos: Barry Rivett for Hotshot Photography


The cast of The Kite Runner play. Photo credit: Barry Rivett for Hotshot Photography

The Kite Runner Glasgow tickets

(*AD - affiliate links)


The Kite Runner is at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow until Sat 13th April 2024.

🎟️Tickets: www.atgtickets.com


Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Tue 9 – Sat 13 April 2024

Tues – Sat: 7:30pm

Thu & Sat: 2:30pm


Guidance

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.


🌟 Also playing in Glasgow this week: 🌟


The Drifters Girl is at The King's Theatre until Sat 13th April 2024.

🎟️ Tickets here: www.atgtickets.com



 

The Kite Runner UK Tour review

The Kite Runner Cast (UK Tour 2024)


Stuart Vincent (Amir) - The Kite Runner (UK tour), The Play That Goes Wrong (West End) and Romeo and Juliet (Orange Tree Theatre).


Yazdan Qafouri (Hassan/Schrab) - Yazdan starred in The Lord of The Rings and Othello (both The Watermill Theatre); Rumi (London Coliseum), The Band (West End & UK Tour).


Returning to The Kite Runner for this tour are Bhavin Bhatt as Assef, a role that saw him named Best Newcomer at the Asian Media Awards in the West End production.


Dean Rehman (Baba), whose recent theatre credits include the role of Everyman with Trifle Gathering at the Eden Project and national tour and Ash in Idle They Yammer at The Other Room


Tiran Aakel (Ali/Farid) whose credits include The Jungle (West End), The EU Killed My Dad (Jermyn Street Theatre), The Girl On The Train (Salisbury Playhouse).


Also rejoining The Kite Runner for this tour are Ian Abeyesekera (Gen Taheri) having appeared in Twelfth Night (RSC), Enemy of the People (Tara Arts), Christopher Glover (Ramin Khan) previously seen in Oliver! (Leeds Playhouse), The Card (New Vic), Sherlock Holmes: The Sign of Four (UK, Netherlands & China Tour) and Stanton Wright (Wali) his credits include The Kite Runner (UK tour),. Great Expectations (Mercury Theatre, Colchester), Twelfth Night (RSC), Romeo & Juliet (Stafford Gatehouse Theatre), Orlando (Jermyn Street Theatre).


Aram Mardourian (Kamal) and Daphne Kouma (Soraya) were both previously in The Beekeeper of Aleppo (Nottingham Playhouse/UK Tour), while Amar Aggoun (ensemble) was in Ian Hislop & Nick Newman's The Wipers Times (The Watermill Theatre, West End & UK Tour and Americana by Hungry B*tches Productions. Sulin Hasso (ensemble) was in Maryland (Riverside Studios), Bard in the Yard (Turbine Theatre) and Repeat Signal (November Club).


Hanif Khan (Tabla player) has been the resident Tabla player on The Kite Runner since 2013. His career has included international performances in Europe, the Middle East and North America as well as UK wide performances including prestigious concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, The Royal Opera House, Edinburgh International Festival, Glastonbury, and Womad festival.


Creatives


Khaled Hosseini - Author

Matthew Spangler - Playright

Giles Croft - Director

Barney George - Designer

Charles Balfour - Lighting Designer

William Simpson - Projection Designer

Jonathan Girling - Composer

Drew Baumohl - Sound Designer

Kitty Winter - Movement Designer

Philip D'Orleans - Fight Director

Damian Sandys -Associate Director

Lucy Jenkins & Sooki McShane - Jenkins Mcshane Casting

Andy Batty - Head of Production

Elizabeth Dennis - Head of Wardrobe


Produced by Martin Dodd for UK Productions and Stuart Galbraith for Kilimanjaro Productions. Originally produced by Nottingham Playhouse and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse.


 

REVIEW: The Kite Runner (UK Tour) at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, April 2024.


🎟️ Disclosure: I was invited to review this show and received a complimentary ticket in exchange for my time and for writing this review. Neither the venue nor show has a say in what I write. I'm completely independent and review invites do not have any impact on my analysis or star ratings.



📸 Find Lisa in the Theatre on Instagram for more photos and videos.


Lisa in the theatre. Scottish theatre reviewer. UK theatre blog. Glasgow Theatre. Edinburgh Theatre. Scotland theatre.

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