Review: ‘The kite Runner’ at Exeter Northcott

Hubby and I saw The Kite Runner advertised, when we were at the Northcott to see a different production. We had both enjoyed the book and the film, so had high expectations for the play. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get a sitter so one of us had to take one for the team (namely me!) Mass was only too happy to have a night out..


On a cold Tuesday evening, I set off to be immersed in not so long ago Afghanistan. Out on a Tuesday evening, before the kids were asleep and on my own…to say I was keen, would be an understatement.

The theatre bar was packed, a mix of chattering students and well dressed theatre patrons. I made a beeline to my seat and settled myself. There was electric expectation in the air, we had all heard good things about the production that much was clear. But there was something else, something more.

Review: 'The kite Runner' at Exeter Northcott, exploring exeter 2017

My ears, then my eyes were drawn to the sole tabla player on stage. The soft melodic rhythm somehow perfectly matched the mood of the crowd. The beat ebbed and flowed as the theatre filled out. I watched as people came in, search for their seats, chatting. Then when they realised that the music was live…hushed in due respect. Hanif Khan, with his gentle smile filled the stage.

The rhythmic drumming grew in intensity, then stopped abruptly. There was a pause, whilst the hypnotic grip was released…then the lights dimmed and the show started.

The story is narrated in the first person by Amir, an Afgan refugee living in California. 

Review: 'The kite Runner' at Exeter Northcott, exploring exeter 2017

If you have read the book or seen the movie, you will know the content is pretty hard hitting. However, the story for the stage production is toned down a little. One change I thought was somewhat detrimental to the story, was the portrayal of Hassan as an ‘imbecile’. I thought a key part of his character in the book was that he was smart, street smart. In the play, he does look out for Amir, sees through his lies and deceit, but his portrayal as being an imbecile or dumb I think removed a key part of the foundation of the story.

Overall the show did not disappoint. It had the tight slickness of a well-oiled production. The cast drew you in and soon I was there in Kabul, the characters I saw in my head when I read the book, were alive a few feet from me. The cast were crisp, with quick scene changes, jumping from one character to another or in Amirs case, one age to another.

Review: 'The kite Runner' at Exeter Northcott, exploring exeter 2017

I particularly thought Jo Ben Ayeb, as Hassan and Bhavin Bhatt as Assef were standouts in the production. Ayeb for the complexity of character he portrayed, and Bhabb for finding a depth of character in a sociopath.

I would highly recommend going, it is not a show to be missed.

The Kite Runner is touring the UK in 2018, see all the listings here.

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