Grace and forgiveness are possible. That’s one of the many takeaways that will wash over you upon leaving the Helen Hayes Theater. The venue is currently hosting The Kite Runner, a stage adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s 2003 novel of the same name. After a lengthy journey from its 2009 World premiere at the San Jose Repertory Theatre and a subsequent run in the West End, it has finally floated to Broadway and it has all the elements of a great theatrical production.
Amir Arison leads the large cast as Amir, the son of a wealthy Afghan merchant who befriends Hassan (Eric Sirakian), his childhood mate of lesser means. As their friendship develops, so too do problems with the local town bullies who commit an unspeakable violent act against Hassan while Amir watches. Now an adult, Amir relays the story of his past and his opportunity “to be good again.”
Although I did not read the best-selling novel, I was somewhat familiar with the story. What I was not prepared for was the emotional juggernaut this show would deliver. While so many stories are overwrought and melodramatic, playwright Matthew Spangler and director Giles Croft carefully render the story in a manner that is undeniably reflective and touching.
Too often, we view news stories abroad as something “over there,” with little concern with how they affect our daily lives and interactions on a local level. Although The Kite Runner is a work of fiction, it focuses on the lives of Afghanistans and portrays them in a light that is fully realized and completely human—a rare but refreshing diversion from the usual depictions of terrorists or convenience store owners. Ultimately this type of storytelling dispels zealous Jingoism and draws us closer together on a global scale.
Charles Balfour’s lighting, William Simpson’s lighting, and Barney George’s set design all add to the glorious pastiche of Afghanistan culture giving us a most worthwhile theater experience.
The KIte Runner is on Broadway at the Helen Hayes Theater (240 W. 44th Street between Broadway and 8th, NYC). Through Oct. 30th. For tickets and information, click here