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The Kite Runner (Liverpool)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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This is such an exotic, exciting production that, though I have not read the novel, I'm doubtful it could be bettered.

Admittedly, given the drama of the first half, with the relationship between two orphaned boys, the highs and lows of the family and those of history, plus of course, the thrill of the eponymous chase, the second part seems a little pedestrian; at times, the plot plods along at a fairly obvious pace.

One quite unusual source of that theatrical staple, conflict, is the pretty unsympathetic hero, cowardly Amir. However, Ben Turner does a tremendous job with narration and acting, and his redemption, credit for which lies largely with his wife Soraya (nice work all round from Lisa Zahra), having exerted himself to woo and win her. By contrast, despite his loyalty, Hassan sometimes seems more simplistic than sweet natured; an interesting idea to cast Farshid Rokey as his son, Sohrab.

Perhaps it's because the two boys almost pale in comparison with Baba, the dynamic father whom Amir believes sees him as a failure. Emilio Doorgasingh's performance is just pipped by the mesmerisingly vicious Assef; Nicholas Karimi plays him as out and out villain yet is entirely convincing.

The whole cast is excellent, likewise the staging, reminiscent of a skate park with a towering background. It does duty for a vast array of scenes, the changing landscape evoked on massive drapes, and the atmosphere heightened by the music.

Intensely, relentlessly gripping, this is a first class choice for the Summer season. And luckily it's on until next month; plenty of time to see for yourself, and to recommend it to everybody you know.

- Carole Baldock