Tag Archives: Tiran Aakel

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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Blueprint Medea

Finborough Theatre

Blueprint Medea

Blueprint Medea

Finborough Theatre

Reviewed – 23rd May 2019



“D’Silva as Medea gives us a leading lady trained to fight and win”


Euripides’ classic has been re-imagined by Julia Pascal and her company to tell the story of a female Kurdistan Workers’ Party fighter who flees the contested geography of her birthplace to seek asylum in Britain. Here she meets and falls in love with a young man who has taken the name Jason “because it’s cool”. Jason will later revert to his given name of Mohamed and the demands of his traditional Iraqi family. You can guess what happens next.

It’s worth reviewing the programme notes before the show starts. They contain a lot of helpful information that explains the complicated background that inspired Blueprint Medea. They also explain the link between Greek Medea and Kurdish Medea (the contemporary Kurds are descendants of the Medes whose empire, the Greek historian Herodotus tells us, once stretched all the way into modern Turkey). Once the show begins, we are plunged straight into the heart of its dilemma – how is Medea going to survive in this alien place called London where she doesn’t speak English, and furthermore, has arrived with a forged passport? With the aid of flashbacks, Pascal and company give us a sketch of the tragic events that led Medea to London, and the fateful meeting with a “young god” named Jason.

There is much to like about Blueprint Medea — it successfully spans vastly different worlds and cultural expectations all within the tiny intimate space that is the stage of the Finborough Theatre. A simple but versatile set designed by Kati Hind (who also created the lighting) and the muscular direction of Julia Pascal show the talents of the actors to best advantage.

Ruth D’Silva as Medea gives us a leading lady trained to fight and win (even if that means using scorched earth tactics to do so). The ensemble of actors around her have individual moments to shine, and Tiran Aakel deserves special mention for his ability to switch effortlessly between such roles as the Kurdish fighter who trains Medea, and Jason’s demanding Iraqi father, who insists that his son follow the customs of his tribe. It is also worth noting that although Pascal does not employ a Chorus the way Euripides did, there are lovely moments where the whole cast takes on a Chorus-like role very effectively.

Ultimately, though, there are just faint traces of Euripides’ original in this “blueprint” version. But Pascal has found a story powerful enough to stand by itself. Blueprint Medea is a multifaceted and complex drama, and is capable of making a connection with audiences wherever they may be.


Reviewed by Dominica Plummer

Photography by Isabella Ferro


Blueprint Medea

Finborough Theatre until 8th June


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
A Winning Hazard | ★★★★ | September 2018
Square Rounds | ★★★ | September 2018
A Funny Thing Happened … | ★★★★ | October 2018
Bury the Dead | ★★★★ | November 2018
Exodus | ★★★★ | November 2018
Jeannie | ★★★★ | November 2018
Beast on the Moon | ★★★★★ | January 2019
Time Is Love | ★★★½ | January 2019
A Lesson From Aloes | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Maggie May     | ★★★★ | March 2019


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