Tag Archives: Stuart Vincent

The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner


Richmond Theatre & UK Tour

The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner

Richmond Theatre

Reviewed – 10th March 2020



“doesn’t always capture the beauty of the novel, but it certainly wrings the emotion from the central themes and relationships”


Khaled Hosseini’s beautifully crafted debut novel, published in 1993, begins by telling the story of Amir, a young boy from the Kabul, and his close friend, Hassan. Hosseini successfully weaves an intimate saga of guilt and atonement into the framework of an epic backdrop. Although set against a backdrop of the tumultuous events – from the fall of Afghanistan’s monarchy through the Soviet invasion; the exodus of refugees and the rise of the Taliban – the reader is continually drawn into the minds of the main protagonists, and their personal battles and relationships. Presenting the grand scale of its setting with the small scale drama of the characters is always going to be a challenge. Matthew Spangler’s adaptation for the stage is faithful to the book and tells the story with startling clarity. It is inevitably condensed but Spangler manages to include all the key events without muddying the context.

We begin at the end. Afghani immigrant Amir is summoned from his California home to Pakistan by Rahim Khan, an old, dying friend of his father, who enigmatically tells Amir that “there is a way to be good again”. Rewind a quarter of a century and we meet Amir as a wealthy, privileged boy in Afghanistan, and his best friend, Hassan, the son of his father’s servant. When Hassan is brutally assaulted by a local bully, Amir is too scared to save him, and is tormented by feelings of guilt which follow him across the continents and generations. Barney George’s simple but effective set, dominated by a rising and falling kite, neatly evokes the central themes while also setting the scene – deftly transforming the Afghan landscape into the San Francisco skyline. Without having to worry where we are geographically and politically we are free to concentrate on the characters and the story. A story of love and betrayal, fathers and sons, good and evil, and the many grey areas in between.

David Ahmad, as Amir, is central to the drama, alternating between the role of narrator and then stepping into his reminiscences. The play does veer disproportionately towards telling us what happens rather than showing us, but Ahmad is a skilled storyteller whose portrayal is ultimately quite moving, especially in the closing moments when he learns some uncomfortable truths about his childhood. Equally strong support comes from Andrei Costin as the childhood friend, Hassan, who also doubles as his own orphaned son (apologies for the spoiler!) in the second act. Their alliance forms much of the political tension: their respective families coming from opposing ethnic backgrounds, although both becoming victims of the rise of the Taliban.

Dean Rehman cuts a formidable figure as Amir’s father, casting twin shadows of love and overbearing expectations over his susceptible son. The ensemble shift in the background between varying characters, occasionally coming to the fore to highlight key moments in the plot; particularly Lisa Zahra, who encapsulates wonderfully the patience and sorrow of Soraya, a fellow refugee of Amir who becomes his wife.

This production of The Kite Runner doesn’t always capture the beauty of the novel, but it certainly wrings the emotion from the central themes and relationships. In just over two hours we do get a pint-sized version, but it is a clear-cut potted history, thick with the atmosphere of a family saga; an atmosphere intensified by Jonathan Girling’s rhythmic soundscape, played live by Hanif Khan. Hosseini’s words are brought to life from the page in Giles Croft’s captivating production that orchestrates a man’s epic journey to the intimate tempos of his beating heart.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Irina Chira


The Kite

The Kite Runner

Richmond Theatre until 14th March then UK tour continues


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Tom Gates | ★★★★ | March 2019
Frankenstein | ★★★ | November 2019


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Review of Waking the Walking Dead – 4 Stars


Waking the Walking Dead

The Old Red Lion Theatre

Reviewed – 24th October 2017



“Every cast member brought a new energy to the stage”


Comedies and horrors are really challenging genres to do right and when you mix them together to create a horror-comedy there is a lot of space for it to go wrong. But, in saying that I felt ecstatic that Waking the Walking Dead was a brilliant performance. I thoroughly enjoyed this production from start to end.

Waking the Walking Dead grabbed you from the moment you entered the space. Stuart Vincent is evidently a very talented director. Vincent directed a wonderful cast and achieved a really enjoyable performance – a joy to experience.

With a colourful palette of characters, Vincent and the cast transported us into their wacky world. What was really enjoyable was that this production takes the zombie apocalypse story but brings us the characters you don’t normally see in this kind of tale.

I really loved that the protagonists were Martin; a gay maths teacher played by Steven Bush and his student played by Sarah Day. Together Steven and Sarah were a dynamic duo. From the moment Steven boldly burst through a door to enter on the stage I was sold. Both actors throughout the piece bounced off each other; in fact, the whole cast really worked as an ensemble with Joe Johnsey and Elizabeth Lloyd Raines adding their own dilemma and chaos as their characters.

Every cast member brought a new energy to the stage. Joe Johnsey as the dashing ‘military’ trickster added a fun chaotic energy to his scenes. His character was brilliantly written and performed. On the other hand, whilst I commend Elizabeth Lloyd Raines for committing and delivering a strong performance as the crazy survival girl; the writing of this character was a bit off for me. There were points which I couldn’t connect to her existing within this world. However, as the character began to become a bit less like she was on a serious episode, and became more human, I started to warm more to her.

Of course, the play’s success was aided by the simple but effective set by Francis White. We were ably to transported into this world by having a few pieces of newspaper spread throughout and a sofa centre stage. Minimalistic but it worked. Furthermore, the costume added little character moments that further immersed me into the action.

The only aspect of the performance that I felt let down the smoothness of the piece, was the blackouts between scenes. I think the writer and director should explore how they can get the play to flow without having to rely on them. With less blackouts I think it would have added an extra layer to this piece. 

Nevertheless, silly, imaginative and fun, Waking the Walking Dead really tickled my feathers. Please keep making more horror-comedies as you all have a talent for it.

Reviewed by Daniel Correia



was part of the London Horror Festival

at The Old Red Lion Theatre




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