REVIEW: The Kite Runner, Playhouse Theatre

Wonderfully powerful, Giles Croft’s heartfelt production of Khaled Hosseini’s best selling novel makes a welcome return to the West End. 

The Kite Runner Playhouse Theatre Amir (David Ahmad) Hassan (Andrei Costin) Photo Irina Chira
David Ahmed and Andrei Costin (c)Irina Chira. 

Covering topics such as guilt, betrayal and redemption, The Kite Runner is a show that constantly tugs at the audience’s heartstrings while also providing them with an education about what it meant (and still does) to live in Afghanistan during conflict.

At the centre of the story are Hassan and Amir – two friends from childhood who are about to be divided due to an act of horrific betrayal that neither of them could have foreseen.

From beginning to the end, audiences are taken on a highly emotive journey filled with prejudice and remorse from the carefree moments between Hassan and Amir all the way through to Amir having to confront his past and what he did in order to move on with his life.

Together, Matthew Spangler’s adaptation and Giles Croft’s production vividly and even occasionally brutally bring this story to life in a beautifully haunting way that stays with the audience long after the show has finished.

Much of this is down to the way in which Amir (David Ahmed) narrates the story from his point of view. There is no hiding from his sense of guilt and the way in which he talks about his life is so honest, delivered in a confidential manner makes the audience feel as though they are there living it with him.

The production is also hard hitting because nothing about it feels pretentious or unbelievable – from the softness of Charles Balfour’s lighting and the simplicity of Barney George’s set, helps to ensure the audience’s attention is on every word that is spoken and the character’s changing lives.

Surrounding the story of Hussan and Amir, the production is also filled with historical context that adds even more depth to the story as a whole, showing the shocking level of prejudice and the divide of religion in the country leading to conflicts and poverty for many.

All of the cast play a strong part in making the production feel so powerful and memorable – not least David Ahmed as the guilt ridden Amir, effectively showing a character wanting to impress his father at any cost. While he appears on the surface to be dominated by fear it is more of a case (however wrongly he went about it) that he was desperate for someone to be proud of him. The stand out performance though comes from Andrei Costin as Hussan, sweetly loyal no matter how Amir treats him. It is a quiet but mesmerising performance that endears the character to the audience.

Bhavin Bhatt’s suitably nasty Assef, delivers his lines in a way that even makes the audience flinch while Emilio Doorgasingh as Bappa delivers a strong and powerful performance of a character who is upstanding and well respected.

Overall, it is a production that impresses from beginning to end being rich in detail and with characters that have translated well from the page to the stage. In the programme notes, Matthew Spangler when said that he thought “an adaption of it could make an engaging piece of theatre” – he was completely right.

The Kite Runner will play at the Playhouse Theatre until the 26th August. To book tickets visit: ATG Tickets,,  See, Discount, Theatre Tickets, Love, Last,Theatre and UK

Rating: ❤❤❤❤❤

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