The Kite Runner is a powerful and dramatic story which leaves a lasting impression on anyone it reaches; it sold over 21 million copies. It’s a fast-paced, haunting tale of cross-cultural, international friendship which follows one man’s journey to confront his past and find redemption. Afghanistan is a divided country on the verge of war. Childhood friends, Amir and Hassan are about to be divided too. On a beautiful afternoon in Kabul, the skies are full while a kite flying tournament is taking place, in which the boys compete together. However, neither of the boys could foresee the events of that day which tear their lives apart.
The story is passionate, gripping and gave me a much needed insight into the history of Afghanistan. It became a country with a personality and made it more ‘real’ in my mind, not just a war-torn disaster. The characters were instantly relatable and believable and the on-stage portrayal was better than I had conjured in my imagination. I was utterly absorbed, pained to watch (in a good way) and sad to see this masterpiece end. Visit the reviews section of the play’s website to see how other people received the production – it’s a shame it’s no longer touring.
There has been a movie adaptation of The Kite Runner, of course, (2007, grossed $75m), but it failed to strike me as much as the live performance did. There must have been quite a lot of pressure to make a good job of the stage production, as the book and film were so popular.
Now, I have a mixed opinion of books turning into other forms of performance or media. I have yet to find more than a handful of movies which are as good, if not better, than the book. (Check out my blog on how to survive a film adaptation). I have been lucky enough to have seen Wicked and Phantom of the Opera, both born from a novel (I’ve not read) but no more such adaptations, as far as I can remember. It can work really well, I’ve heard, and indeed did for both the two mentioned. A bit more was at stake in seeing a newly boxed The Kite Runner though, being one of my favourite reads. My theatre experience is largely of musicals from school trips and one instance of ballet, one of a comedy play and a Shakespeare play. That was years ago, and I was well-overdue when I visited Oxford last September, but should I have gone for something entirely new to me, having loved the book so much?
Want to know more about plays flipping books to stage audiences? Check out this fab article from the Financial Times about the pitfalls of turning books into plays. Michael Morpurgo (of War Horse fame) even has something to say about his books being 'stage-ified'. yes, I made up that word. My works won't be on stage any time soon!
Which other books would you like to see turned into a stage production?
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