Thursday, August 4, 2022

Broadway Theater Review: The Kite Runner

 

(Front row) Danish Farooqui, Amir Arison, Joe Joseph, (back row) Faran Tahir, Evan Zes,Houshang Touzie and Dariush Kashani. Photo: Joan Marcus

The Kite Runner

Adapted by Matthew Spangler from the novel by Khaled Hosseini’s
Directed by Giles Croft
Helen Hayes Theatre

By Lauren Yarger
The Kite Runner, a haunting tale of one man's self journey of redemption, flies onto to the New York stage  after a successful run in London's West End. 

Matthew Spangler adapts Khaled Hosseini’s international best-seller about two boys who become friends despite being from two different social classes in war-torn Afghanistan and the long-term effects on their lives when one fails to honor that friendship.

Hassan (Eric Sirakian) is the son of Ali (Evan Zes), a servant to well-born Baba (an excellent Farah Tahir). Hassan and Baba's son, Amir  (Amir Arison), both motherless, find they have some things in common despite their class differences and become fast friends. Hassan becomes a kite runner -- the person who finds where a kite being flown in competitions lands -- and Amir's eventual winning of the competition finally earns him some approval in the disapproving eyes of his harsh father. The victory comes with a great loss, however, as Amir fails to help Hassan when he falls into the hands of sadistic Assef (Amir Malaklou) who, with the help of his gang, rape the boy.

Amir's guilt over witnessing the crime without interfering causes him to withdraw from his friendship with the ever-loyal Hassan who doesn't understand what he has done to displease his friend. He even claims Hassan has stolen from him to have him and his father sent from the household. Eventually war forces Baba and Amir to flee and start a new life in California. 

There, Amir marries Soraya (Azita Ghanizada) and tries to pursue his career as a writer. Years later, he learns that Hassan is dead and that his former friend's son, Sohrab (also played by Sirakian), is in an Afghan orphanage, being used by sex traffickers. An old family friend, Rahim Khan (Dariush Kashani), and Soraya plead with the reluctant Amir to return to Kabul to save the boy.

Now, I know most of you reading this probably loved the book, as most people did. I tried, but couldn't stay interested enough to read very far. After watching this play, I think I realize why. The story should not be Amir's. He is a really not a nice, or sympathetic, person who makes selfish, bad choices all of his life. One moment of realization late in the game to me does not make this a story of redemption worth sitting through two and half hours -- or 400 pages. I would so much rather have Hassan tell the story. We feel for him. We want to understand how he feels about being a second-class citizen, the joy he must have felt at finding a brother/friend in Amir and how he copes with Amir's rejection and betrayal. Having Amir tell the story and giving this character more importance, adds insult to injury. 

The story is skillfully directed by Giles Croft and the mood is created by Barney George (Scenic and Costume Design), Charles Balfour (Lighting Design), Drew Baumohl (Sound Design), William Simpson (Projection Design), though the kite flying could have been more imaginative.

Music by Jonathan Girling opens the story (for a bit too long) and underscores dialogue with cultural instruments. 

I left the theater wondering why we still are seeing stories written by men, directed by men about men and how they feel on Broadway stages in an age when we are supposed to be making an effort to include underrepresented voices. There are many plays written by women about issues women deal with every day, including rape. 

Additional credits:

Kitty Winter (Movement Director), Humaira Ghilzai (Cultural Advisor and Script Consultant), Damian Sandys (Associate Director).

Additional casting:

Mazin Akar, Barzin Akhavan, Demosthenes Chrysan, Azita Ghanizada, Danish Farooqui, Joe Joseph, Déa Julien, Dariush Kashani, Beejan Land, Amir Malaklou, Christine Mirzayan, Haris Pervaiz, Alex Purcell, Eric Sirakian, Houshang Touzie, and Evan Zes. Salar Nader plays the tabla, a percussion instrument.

The Kite Runner plays at the Hayes Theater, 240 W. 44th St., NYC. https://thekiterunnerbroadway.com/


FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:

  • Language
  • Sexual dialogue
  • Rape (graphically described, but not shown)
  • God's name taken in vain
  • Muslim prayer and wedding ceremony
  • Masks are required for Wednesday matinee and Friday evening performances. At other performances, masks are optional inside the theater. For more specific information go to: https://2st.com/visit
  • the theater was freezing! Bring a sweater.

No comments:

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York. Shifting from reviewing to producing, Yarger owns Gracewell Productions, which produced the Table Reading Series at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT. She trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Intensive and other training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run. She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She wrote reviews of Broadway and Off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She was a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com. She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice president and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (producer of the annual awards ceremony) and a member of The League of Professional Theatre Women, serving as Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter. Yarger was a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2022 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women or people of a certain race are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide, or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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