Amir is a story-teller.
We join him as he reflects on his childhood, from playing in the streets of Kabul, travelling to Pakistan to escape war, and growing up in America. We follow the relationships he has with the men in his life – his father, his friend, his role model, and his bully.
A good chunk of the second half is dedicated to Amir meeting his love interest, Soraya. Despite this, her character has limited depth and no room to grow. We are given her story in a way that feels stunted and forced, however Amiera Darwish gave the character grace where it was desired and attitude where it was warranted. I’m certain she would be comfortable in a more complex role.
Lighting effects create atmosphere and clever use of the stage draws our attention to the lively interactions between characters and helps colour Amir’s exposition heavy monologues. Live percussion from Hanif Khan and other performers punctuates the entire piece, building and releasing tension with minimalistic beauty.
The accents and languages used in this production serve to differentiate parts of the story. Raj Ghatak performed this difficult piece with proficiency, switching fluidly between his present and past selves as the scene requires, maintaining both accents perfectly throughout.
The piece is awash with western influences, but for the most part feels respectful of the cultures it portrays. While the setting is important for cultural and historical context, the challenges the characters face transcend national or cultural identities, connecting us all in what it means to be human.
On the surface, this is the journey of one Afghan family fleeing to America to escape the Taliban. But when you look closer, it makes us question ideas of privilege, racism, war, and personal ethics. If we have the choice to ignore the consequences of our actions, must we take responsibility, or is it ok to walk away? Must we be who we are expected to be, or can we become who we choose to become?
I would recommend attending this interesting production, particularly as a gateway into learning about different cultures.
© Starbuck Friend 2018
The Nottingham Playhouse and Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse production of The Kite Runner is at Norwich Theatre Royal until Saturday 10th March. All shows at 7.30pm with a Wednesday and Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.
To book, log onto www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk or call the box office on 01603 630000.