RUNNING FOR HUMANITY
Theatre review of Theatre Calgary's The Kite Runner January 29 - February 24, 2013 at the Max Bell Theatre in Calgary, AB
Theatre Calgary's The Kite Runner takes us on a journey of redemption, forgiveness and humanity
Anyone who has survived adolescence will agree that adolescence is a time that we all look back upon with mixed emotions. Quite often, this has to do with our decisions that we made during those tender years as well as intrigue as to how things could have turned out differently if we had made different choices. For the protagonist in Theatre Calgary’s latest play, The Kite Runner, one of his decisions as a 12-year-old results in dramatic consequences that haunts him throughout his adult years, and compels us, the audience to follow him on a powerful and emotional journey as he hopes to finally make amends.
Based on Khaled Hosseini’s novel, and adapted for the stage by Matthew Spangler, The Kite Runner transports us to 1970s Afghanistan, where we meet 12-year-old Amir. As we follow his tale, we meet his best friend Hassan, who also happens to be Amir’s servant. Additionally, we meet Amir’s father Baba, whose best friend and servant also happens to be vested in one individual, Hassan’s father, Ali.
As the tale progresses, we watch both Amir and Hassan fall victim to bullying, led by the town bully, Assef. On the night of the annual Kite Festival, Amir wins the prestigious competition; however, while trying to help Amir win, Hassan encounters a potential dark and horrific fate and Amir is the only person who can prevent this fate from becoming a reality. Everything comes down to Amir’s decision, the results of which, drives the remainder of this dramatic and thought provoking play.
Director Eric Rose has done an exquisite job in his staging, taking full advantage of the Max Bell Theatre stage space. He effectively transports us to a wide variety of locations, including a backyard birthday party lit with lanterns, the war torn streets of Afghanistan, the streets of 1980s San Francisco, and of course, a festive Kite Festival during pre-war Afghanistan.
However, what I found most impressive about Rose’s direction was his ability to draw my attention and personally engage me in a chillingly powerful and gripping way. At times, the content was very painful to watch and I felt my emotions overtaking me. However, no matter how emotionally disturbing the story got, I could never look away from the stage – I was completely captivated and swept away.
As young Amir and Hassan, Conor Wylie and Norman Yeung deliver heartbreaking performances that capture the innocence and complexity of adolescence with painful honesty. As adult Amir as well as the narrator of the play, Anousha Alamian’s strong performance serves as the backbone of the production and carries the play from beginning to end with his wonderful humour, emotion, and at times, frighteningly realistic portrayal. Michael Beng’s portrayal of Amir’s father, Baba is equally outstanding and powerful.
As Soraya, Amir’s wife, Dalal Badr’s performance is exquisitely captivating and stunning and offers a wonderful female touch to the otherwise all-male principal cast. Omar Alex Khan’s depiction of Amir’s family friend, Rahim Khan, is also quite strong, as Khan offers an intriguing and mysterious spine chilling quality to his performance. Lastly, as the town bully, Assef, Ali Momen’s performance is realistic and frightening, especially as his character further develops in the second act.
This is not an easy play to get through. While watching The Kite Runner, I experienced a roller coaster ride of emotions, including intrigue, laughter, sadness and horror. However, above all else, the Kite Runner compelled me to think about the effects that our decisions can have on our families and loved ones - I left the theatre stunned and provoked by this brilliant and profound tale.
At its heart, The Kite Runner tells a tale of what happens when a man finally finds the courage to face his fears and make amends for his mistakes. The Kite Runner teaches us that while we may not always be able to fully repair the damages that ensue from our decisions, we can learn from the past and rebuild our lives. However, the first step is to admit our mistakes and learn to forgive – because after all, we are all human.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5