I’m here with Vicky and Autumn who went to see ‘The Kite Runner’ at Birmingham REP last week. Most people have heard of ‘The Kite Runner’ in one form or another. It was originally a book, then a film and now has been made into a stage production, but for those who don’t know, would you like to tell me a bit about the story?
A: The Kite Runner is based on the friendship between two boys; Amir and Hassan. It is set in Afghanistan and it follows the life of Amir after he makes a pretty pivotal decision in his childhood that affects both his and his family’s lives massively moving forward. It is all about relationships and culture and there is a lot of symbolism in there as well.
So if we start by talking a little bit about the set. They had to do a lot of scenes; set both inside and outside, from Afghanistan to America. Do you want to tell me a bit about their use of set and how that worked?
V: They utilised a rug and a curtain, which was really multi functional and they did different projections on it for different scenes, which sometimes helped it to feel more outdoors. They also used different levels and the character of Assef came on to the stage on the highest platform to show he had more power than anyone else.
And would you say they did it successfully?
A: I think they did. I think its quite difficult because so much of it is about the culture and beauty of Afghanistan and moving into America towards the latter end of the book, it becomes about that contrast between the two places which is something quite difficult to capture with a minimalistic set. Also they utilised the rug to ensure smooth transitions from scene to scene which was good.
They also had a musician on stage called Hanif Khan who played some traditional Afghani music. How do you think that added to the performance?
A: I actually think that was one of the best aspects of the production. I think it was really subtle as well. It was playing as people were coming into the theatre which was setting the scene from the off. It was all Afghani music but they changed it subtly depending on the character so when Assef, the intimidating character, came on, the music took on a darker undertone and I really liked that.
Brilliant, and so Amir who is the main character did quite a good job, in my opinion, of playing both an older American man alongside himself as a younger twelve year old in Afghanistan. How do you think he dealt with that?
V: I think its hard to maintain a naturalistic performance in that kind of character because he was going from being old to young but I think he did it quite successfully in terms of how he changed his accents and his posture. It was a very physical performance. He did it as well as he could considering the casting of an adult as a child character.
A: Yeah, he’s playing an adult and a child because the book is reflective, coming from an adult perspective looking back on his childhood. I think it was maybe a mistake on the director’s part to go for the same casting for the adult as the child. I think he did well, but I didn’t necessarily agree with that decision.
Would you recommend it?
A: I would recommend it. I would say you might enjoy it more if you haven’t read the book than if you have. It’s a good production and source of entertainment but if you’re looking for that symbolism and character relationship that you get from the book, which is heartbreaking to the point of not being able to put it down, you’ll notice a definite difference between the book and the stage production but I did think it was good and I would say do go and see it.
V: I think if you’ve read the book you just have to be prepared for disappointment in that its not going to capture everything you’ve imagined whilst reading it. After seeing the film as well, I would say that they have done a good job and would definitely say go and see it.
The Kite Runner is on at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre until 4th October.