The Kite Runner at Lyceum Theatre Sheffield Review


Reviewed by J Wright

The Kite Runner theatre production was adapted from the bestselling novel of the same name, written by Khaled Hosseini. The novel was so popular that in sales since 2005 it has sold almost 50 million copies worldwide.

The stage production adapted by Matthew Spangler and directed by Giles Croft illustrates the streets of Kabul and a friendship between two boys which falls apart on an emotional and traumatic journey to adulthood.

There are amusing moments here and there, observations and word play but they are lost in the events which take place and the mood changes.

Set in Afghanistan’s difficult past, in the 1970’s and later into the 1980’s, we follow Amir and Hassan linked by families, history and loss and the best of friends despite their differences in social class and status. Their play together introduces the popularity of kite flying in Afghanistan and how competitive it can be.

It’s a more idyllic and captivating essence of their lives than the horrors which soon come, dividing their friendship. Creating a challenging emotional landscape in which two young people must navigate terrible events and learn how it will shape their lives in the future.

Whilst the production is not explicit it is clear and it is disturbing to be aware that a young, vulnerable and entirely innocent child is meant to be harmed. Another child witnesses this and feels unable to intervene, a series of events which are pivotal and each moment is loaded with the knowledge which underpins every decision made from that point onward.

Some of the characters are entirely repulsive and it can create a strong reaction, both in the events which take place and the characters which inflict themselves on others. This makes it a difficult production to watch and may upset some theatregoers.

The set is relatively simplistic but with great use of lighting we are able to perceive the world the characters describe, sense the sun and later the wind and snow and the experience of playing beneath the trees and running through the streets.

The costumes are a blend of the traditional clothing of the area and the varying colour palettes and trends of the 70’s and 80’s which help refer to the era without driving it home too hard. It has authenticity.

I liked that the performers brought sound and music to the stage, using schwirrbogen, singing bowls and a live tabla performer, Hanif Khan, who performs live on stage throughout much of the production. This brings an auditory authenticity to the sound used in the production and a welcome and beautiful change to the atrocities on stage.

The production is a contrast and parallel, the whimsical beauty of the kites and the danger and threat of the glass which allows the kite flyers to compete viciously against others, compared to the simplicity and idealism of friendships and childhoods which are destroyed by the barbarism within others.

Tickets are still available at The Lyceum via calling the box office 0114 249 6000 or booking online at https://www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk/events/the-kite-runner-2024 priced from £15.00 to £45.50.

The Kite Runner  – 

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