The Kite Runner is set to take Norwich audiences on a rollercoaster ride of emotion
- Credit: Betty Laura Zapata
A haunting tale of friendship, family and one man's journey to find redemption is heading to Norwich Theatre Royal. Arts correspondent Emma Knights finds out more about The Kite Runner.
Audiences are in for a rollercoaster ride of emotion when The Kite Runner opens in Norwich.
Based on the international best-selling novel of the same name by Khaled Hosseini, the play – which is coming to Norwich in March - takes its audience to Afghanistan in the mid 1970s.
It is a period of relative peace, before the turmoil in the region today. Excitement fills the skies as a great Kabul tradition gets under way – the famous kite-flying tournament.
Two childhood friends, Amir and Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant, are among those to compete in the competition.
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To their delight they are victorious, but little do they know that soon an unthinkable act of violence will see them torn apart and their lives shattered forever.
Years later, Amir – having fled to America with his father amid Afghanistan's growing political and ethnic tensions - is forced to return to his native country that is now under the control of the Taliban, and he is forced to confront the past he has struggled to deal with for so long.
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Simply yet beautifully told through narrated storytelling, the show - which has already proved a hit in London's West End - guides its audiences through the most precious of moments, the darkest of times, and everywhere in between.
And while set against the backdrops of specific times and places, The Kite Runner is also a tale of the universal – of family, friendship, love and fitting in – and above all redemption.
Cast member Karl Seth, who has previously been in West End shows including East is East and Bend It Like Beckham, said the 'deep, dark story' of The Kite Runner was probably one of the most unique pieces of theatre he has been involved in.
Mr Seth, who plays a number of characters including Amir's father's friend Rahim Khan who almost acts as a second parent to Amir, said: 'The first thing for me is the journey, particularly Amir's character...this whole journey he goes on to correct the mistakes he has made as a child and even as an adult, the courage and hope for the future.'
For Jo Ben Ayed - who has recently graduated from East 15 Acting School and is playing Hassan in what is his first major theatre role – it is the idea of relationships that are the key.
He said: 'Relationship, I think that's the core, between one person and another, and cut away society, cut away everything political, you can't break core friendship and the relationship between a father to a son, a son to a brother, it's something so powerful that everyone can relate to.'
Amiera Darwish, who previously appeared in a production of William Wordsworth at Theatre by the Lake in Keswick, plays Soraya, a young woman who falls in love with Amir and who has also had a difficult past.
She said she had been especially struck by a recent conversation with an audience member who had seen a huge amount of hope in the show.
'She was like, it just shows you no matter what's happened you can correct it, you can move on, you can repair things and make new redeeming friendships and relationships,' she said.
All three actors agree it is the extremes of emotion in The Kite Runner that make it such a great play to perform.
Ms Darwish said: 'The play has its harrowing moments and its funny moments, and I think I find it certainly a joy to perform, and [after] those sections which are really sad and tap into the deep, human, guttural feelings, you are buoyed back up again by something really beautiful and heartfelt.'
And it would seem the audience members are equally moved.
'Almost every time we get a standing ovation and people are really moved to tears,' said Mr Seth.
'They are so involved in the story and when the last line is said it's a release for them to express their appreciation...It's incredibly gratifying being a part of something like that and knowing it's going to touch a nerve every night.'
• The Kite Runner – which is based on the best-selling novel by Khaled Hosseini and adapted by Matthew Spangler - is at Norwich Theatre Royal from March 5 to 10. Tickets £8-£28.50.
For more information and to book tickets, call the box office on 01603 630000 or visit www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk