NEW YORK — “A land mine,” observes a sardonic persona in “The Kite Runner,” now landed on Broadway within the summertime warmth. “Is there a more Afghan attain to die?”
That monstrous line, taken straight from the 2003 contemporary by Khaled Hosseini, distills the trauma of that prolonged-anguished nation, successfully to place in assets nonetheless partitioned in strife, prolonged fought over by the British and the Russians and viewed by the Biden administration as an unwinnable quagmire that caused the longest war in U.S. historical previous.
For loads of People, regardless that no longer all, the appropriate Afghan scheme has meant making an exit while shrugging off the humanitarian impress of helping and abetting the extra rise of the Taliban, a frightful sect for whom lethal land mines prolonged were the weapon of replace. Alongside with executions.
Within the center of that defective historical previous flew “The Kite Runner,” the semi-autobiographical contemporary, and then film, about two boyhood chums in Kabul. It modified into penned by Afghan American author Hosseini, himself a member of the U.S. Afghan diaspora, as found in many neighborhoods of New York City.
Hosseini’s vastly winning story of the brutal ethnic oppression of the Hazaras by the Pashtun is found, canines-eared, on many center- and high-schoolers’ nightstands or floating alongside Minecraft on their pills.
Even supposing no longer without controversy (what e book is, within the within the period in-between?), “The Kite Runner” is on plenty of faculty districts’ curricula and, within the seats of the Helen Hayes Theatre, younger of us could perhaps also additionally be viewed in pairs, seemingly exploring extra or seemingly having correct determined that seeing the 2 hour, 40 minute cowl modified into faster and less complicated than studying the e book. They’re a rare peep on Broadway,
These younger of us seemingly left with famous of use to them. But for anyone deeply fond of “The Kite Runner,” and cognizant of its explosive theatrical possibilities, the cowl, previously viewed in London’s West Discontinue, is essentially a very prosaic, sincerely acted disappointment.
There is a irregular flatness to Matthew Spangler’s adaptation. In contemporary put, “The Kite Runner” is recommended from the purpose of explore of Amir (Amir Arison), the privileged Pashtun boy who fails to cease a sexualized attack on his servant, nonetheless genuinely his finest friend, a Hazara named Hassan (Eric Sirakian).
Within the contemporary, “The Kite Runner” is a memoir of the be taught about for atonement by a person overly oppressed with gaining the approval of his father (performed by Faran Tahir). But it no longer frequently ever voices the feelings of the baby whose life turns to mud; as a replace, he capabilities as a style of angelic presence, a cipher for the guilt of his successfully to place friend.
In 2003, of us looked at this story as two younger of us pulled aside by circumstance, and that’s honest. But of us now rightly pay more consideration to ownership of a memoir and, simply assign, far too famous of the night is given to big swaths of first-person narration by Amir, an imbalance intensified by a lead efficiency exterior to every thing and that proceeds at exactly the an identical hasten all night. Or so it feels.
Seeing every thing via one pair of memoir eyes limits what the cowl can create on stage. And time and time all over again — most notably when Amir finally explains the previous to his underwritten unique wife, Soraya (Azita Ghanizada) — we’re suggested a couple of scene in preference to shown. Optimistic, there’s an imperative to be comely to the contemporary and the protagonist’s bolt via guilt is without problems understood by a vast viewers. But this is now a play and it’s a definite time.
It’s sure that Sirakian is a deeply transferring actor, nonetheless the cowl never affords him satisfactory vitality in his possess half of the story to utterly indicate. The same applies to Ghanizada, playing the one girl on the stage with any style of role. Frankly, it’s egregious.
For a Broadway cowl, the production values are as underwhelming because the brazenly presentational route from by Giles Croft. There is a couple of successfully to place kite imagery, for definite, and live song from the percussionist Salar Nader (he plays the tabla). But even those sounds are most frequently drowned out by superfluous recorded song. Every little thing is simply too unhurried, too ponderous and, within the case of all of the actors playing a couple of roles, their confusing trajectories had been insufficiently notion out by the director.
What you salvage here’s a modestly packaged version of a highly effective archetypal story.
What you miss is the racing new of Kabul: the chaos, the circulation, the old antagonisms, the plug of early life and threat.
In war zones, snap choice with cascading consequences are on the total required. Right here, you behold easiest person build them, and it’s no longer the boy working with the kites.
“The Kite Runner” plays on the Hayes Theater, 240 W. 44th St., New York; thekiterunnerbroadway.com
Chris Jones is a Tribune critic.