Theater review: The kite runner

Kite Runner demonstrates the metastatic evil of prejudice.

A SCENE FROM ‘The kite runner’ (photo credit: YESHAYAHU FINEBERG)
A SCENE FROM ‘The kite runner’
(photo credit: YESHAYAHU FINEBERG)
To be the narrator in a play is very difficult. You have to be there and not there at the same time, so it’s good to be able to say that Avi Azoulay admirably acquits himself of this responsibility as Amir, the hero of this visually captivating, poetic and insightful movement-theater production of Kite Runner. Amit Zamir’s movement enriches and enhances many a moment in the play.
Kite Runner
is essentially a story of coming of age, loss and redemption set in Afghanistan, a South-Central Asian country that has been in a state of political/social/religious ferment for more than a century. The book and the play span the turbulent years from the overthrow of the monarchy to the era of the Taliban.
To understand the play better, it’s necessary to know the difference between Pashtun and Hazara. Sunnis, the Pashtun, are the ruling class. The Hazara are Shia, also a despised and persecuted minority to this day.
Motherless young Amir (Yoli Seker) and his father, Baba (Doron Tavory) are wealthy Pashtun. Their Hazara servants are Ali (Alexander Senderovitch) and his son Hassan (Hillel Cappon). Hassan and Amir are the same age, best friends, insofar as their social standing permits, and avid kiteflyers. When Amir’s kite wins the annual Kabul kite championship, Hassan runs in search of it, is horribly set upon by rival Assef (Firas Nassar) as, utterly terrified, Amir watches and does nothing. Years later, and already living in the US, grown-up Amir (Azoulay) has the chance to redeem the wrong and rescue Hassan’s son, Sohrab (also Cappon) from Taliban (also Nassar) servitude.
In deliberate surrealism, clouds are carried on sticks, cars are made of steps and a steering wheel on a stick, trees are made of actors and those sticks, and so on. Set on two levels, the action takes place on and below a steep rake in Act I that becomes stairs with a ton of metaphorical rubble behind them in Act II.
The acting honors in this play belong to Firas Nassar as Hassan and then as Sohrab. His Hassan is dogged, loving and possessed of a quiet heroism while Sohrab is pitifully fearful, then engagingly, reluctantly hopeful. Yoli Seker’s young Amir is a sweet and heedless lad. He’s also a spoiled brat and a coward who grows up into a decent and chastened man (Azoulay). As Baba, Tavory must run the gamut between privileged aristocrat and lowly souvenir seller, while retaining his dignity as a man throughout, which Tavory effortlessly effects. As humble Ali, then as the very-much-standing-on-his-dignity General Taheri, the versatile Alexander Senderovitch does his usual sterling job, as do the rest of the cast in their varied roles.
Act I is richer than Act II – perhaps they didn’t quite spend enough time on the latter? Which actually is no matter because Kite Runner also demonstrates the metastatic evil of prejudice, and we know about that, I think.