“The Kite Runner” will make your spirit soar! Based on a book by Khaled Hosseini, the production has a beautiful adaptation courtesy of Matthew Spangler. It tells the story of a special friendship between two boys from Afghanistan who grew up together. It is a story of loyalty, betrayal, guilt and redemption. As I sat in the theater with my 20-year-old daughter, we were incredibly touched by this moving play. Amir, the son of a rich merchant in Afghanistan grew up with his servant Hassan. Between these boys you see the separation of class, but also a bond that they share as human beings. Hassan is someone who does not have the advantages of Amir—being able to read and write—but he worships everything that Amir does. He is someone who will put his life and well-being on the line to protect Amir. Amir is a young man who has real Daddy issues. Since his mother died giving birth to him and he is not a manly man—he doesn’t play sports like soccer—he knows that his father is disappointed in him on several levels. Then add to that the fact that he wants to be a writer of fiction, that just makes his father think that something is wrong with him.
The character of Amir is the narrator of the play and he takes the audience on a moving journey to his childhood in Afghanistan. He describes the beauty of the country and where he lived. He speaks of the joys of being a kite runner, a sport I had never heard of. There are two parts to this sport, the person who flies the kite and cuts down other kites and the person who runs to catch the kites that have been cut. There is skill involved in both. Amir is skilled at cutting the kites, and Hassan is the best kite runner, he’s able to know where the kite will land. The play set between 1973 to 2001 takes the audience from Afghanistan and the boys’ childhood, to the political unrest, the Russian takeover, the people fleeing and the takeover by the Taliban. The audience gets to hear how the regular citizens were impacted when these situations happened. You sympathize with the loss of all of one’s possessions and property as you flee to go somewhere safe. You sympathize with people being crammed into trucks, terrified of being stopped by soldiers and being abused.
You also marvel at the dignity of these refugees who are trying to find a new place to start over again and then them finally making it to the U.S. and taking up residence in places like San Francisco.
This play was marvelously done! It opened one’s eyes to the customs of the people from Afghanistan, from their wedding ceremonies, to their dress, to the tightly neat community that struggled together sharing their spaces at flea markets to raise some money. You also saw the pride of people who did whatever work they could find to take care of their families.
Watching this play touched my heart and my daughter’s as she was often in tears. This is a play I really don’t want to explain a lot about. To tell you all the in’s and out’s would deprive you of the chance to experience them fresh and new. “The Kite Runner” is something to be experienced because it is a delicate and powerful portrayal of the beauty that can be in the human spirit, but also the fear, guilt and shame. But, no matter what happens in our lives, we are always given an opportunity to redeem ourselves.
This cast is absolutely stunning to watch and includes Amir Arison as Amir. His character is fighting many demons and has much to struggle with; Eric Sirakian is Hassan, a character to whom he brings a lovely, childlike trust and innocence; Sirakian later also plays Sohrab with a great deal of feeling and depth; Faran Tahir is strong and harsh on Amir as his father. Evan Zes is Ali, Hassan’s father and the servant to Amir’s father for over 40 years; Dariush Kashani plays multiple roles with a great deal of heart; Azita Ghanizada is marvelous as Soraya, the general’s daughter who aspires to be a teacher; Houshang Touzie is commanding as General Taheri, Soraya’s father; Amir Malaklou plays Assef, a bully to Amir and Hassan. Other cast members include Salar Nader; Danish Farooqui; Beejan Land; Christine Mirzayan and Joe Joseph. This play delivers on so many levels, with an authenticity that can’t be denied. There is a feeling of reverence for the Afghanistani people’s culture, traditions and shared sense of the value of ones’ history.
This play was a beautiful production to behold and it touched my soul on so many levels, in addition to teaching me so much. Go to the Hayes Theater on W. 44th and experience this phenomenal play—there is nothing on Broadway like it. Giles Croft’s direction brings everything together in an engaging package. For more info, visit www.thekiterunnerbroadway.com.