Last night I took my Mom to see The Kite Runner at The Citadel Theatre. Based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini it tells the story of two young boys in Afghanistan during the 1970s and the impact of the events of the country's history on their friendship. It is also a story about making amends and forgiving yourself for past wrongs.
The production is beautiful and rich in sensory elements. It has the right feel for part of the world it portrays and rather than go with a very concrete realistic stage Director Eric Rose's production has instead wisely chosen a more abstract and flexible design (Set and Lighting Design - Kerem Cetinel). It works well as the scenes shift quickly from place to place and time to time in Amir's (Anousha Alamian) memory as he narrates. Sound also plays an important role in the production - with a live musician onstage (Salar Nader) complimenting the Sound Design of Matthew Waddell. It is stunning to both see and hear and the repeated images of the kites are simply gorgeous.
Since I have read the book, I did have to adjust to the stage production from the novel, but once I let go of the expectations I came in with, I was able to immerse myself in it. Alamian acts primarily as narrator in the first act - committed to his memories with the retrospection and self-doubt of an adult looking back - and he and his younger counter-part, Conor Wylie, are well-matched. They even stand the same way. When the story shifts to the adult Amir immersed in the action of the second act it is smooth and feels right in the transition. Overall the ensemble is very strong. Alamian runs his marathon of a show with good pace and sensitivity. You believe that this is his story. Additional stand-outs for me are Michael Peng as Baba and Norman Yeung as Hassan. There are a few times when the background action from the supporting characters gets a little too broad (Was everyone in 1980s San Fransisco a crazy character? Do men really play with their mustaches that much?) and these distracted me from what I should be watching. Perhaps it was just the desire to be committed to the action onstage, but I really felt some of the background needed to blend in more instead of standing out and distracting from the main action. Despite that minor issue, I was emotionally caught up in the piece, tearing up in the final scene and taking joy in the spirit of forgiveness and hope for the future.
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