The Kite Runner on Broadway
The Kite Runner, a novel written by Khaled Hosseini published in 2003, has sold 38 million copies worldwide. In 2007 it was made into a film, and now, a play adapted by Matthew Spangler, is running on Broadway in an intimate house.
One need not have read the book to be immersed in the story telling of this adaptation.
It is not an easy play to watch where the main character weaves his life’s tale, sometimes brutal, suspenseful, and intimidating.
Amir, fiercely played by Amir Arison, begins his story as an adult, even though as his story unfolds, he spars and tumbles with Hassan, his best friend, (who is also his servant) when they are both 12 years old. Hassan lives in a shack with his father, Ali, on the opulent property that Amir shares with his wealthy father. They both have lost their mothers, so it is just the four of them with Hassan and Ali wearing hats of both servants and buddies.
Hassan is an expert kite runner and wins a serious competition, running the kite for Amir in Kabul. Jubilation ensues…until a gang of bullies accost Hassan to steal the kite. A horrific act of abuse takes place. Amir sees it unfold and does nothing to stop it.
That brutal act informs the rest of Amir’s life, and he spends his days dealing with his lack of courage and loyalty, even going so far to plant his watch and money under Hassan’s bed to make it appear that Hassan stole the items. He believed that if Hassan were sent away, he would be relieved of his guilt. Hassan and his father do leave their positions and home out of pride, and unconditional protection of Amir.
There are many plot twists and turns in The Kite Runner. Throughout, we see the harshness of economic privilege, and the ugliness of religious persecution. The story unfolds a bit ploddingly in the first act, but changes gears in the second, when a great deal of action and movement takes place as we learn secrets about Amir’s family… along with Amir.
Now in America. with a father who lost his riches and must work at a gas station, Amir meets a woman who becomes his wife.
Due to a terrifying regime change in Afghanistan, violence takes the life of a now adult Hassan and his wife, leaving their son an orphan, subjected to the abuses of the Taliban. Amir is called back to Afghanistan to help get the boy away from their clutches.
The Kite Runner is about how Amir finds his way to redemption, attempting to right the wrong he did to his best friend. The beauty of this piece is that we see there is always a way to stand up for what is right, and to head towards “a way to be good again.”
Heartbreaking, brutal, beautiful, and spiritual, The Kite Runner keeps you engaged, horrified, touched. It is a long play, one where you feel a bit exhausted at the end. Amir Arison does an outstanding job of taking us on his character’s journey. Each part is beautifully cast, and the ensemble brings depth and soul to their respective roles.
Salar Nader, a tabla artist, sits at the edge of the stage throughout most of the play, providing the exotic sounds and rhythm of the percussion instruments.
Directed by Giles Croft, The Kite Runner plays through October 30.
Valerie Smaldone is a 5-time Billboard Magazine Award winner and is well known for her unprecedented success holding the #1 on-air position in the New York radio market on 106.7 Life-FM, an iHeart station. She has hosted, produced, and created several award-winning nationally syndicated programs featuring in-depth interviews with stars like Paul McCartney, Celine Dion, Rod Stewart, Elton John and Mariah Carey among others. Her radio talk show "Bagels and Broadway" highlighted theatre and food personalities. She is an accomplished interviewer and voice artist heard on commercials, narrations, promos and audiobooks, as well as a sought after live announcer.
Most recently, Valerie produced and directed a film, The Thursday Night Club, featuring pop diva Gloria Gaynor in her movie acting debut. She is one of the creators and producers of a docu-series, Divine Renovation, starring Erik Estrada, on streaming networks soon.