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Posts Tagged ‘Khaled Hosseini’

I came to this story fresh, having not read Khaled Hosseini’s novel nor seen the film, and by the interval I was underwhelmed by a fairly pedestrian piece of storytelling that seemed to belong on the fringe rather than in the West End, but after the interval it gained pace and interest.

Amir’s father Baba is a prosperous Afghani and Hussain is the son of his long-standing servant Ali, and they are best friends. Amir turns a blind eye to a violent attack on his friend, then compounds it, seemingly through guilt, by making claims about Hussain’s dishonesty and destroying his relationship with him and his father’s with Ali. When the Taliban begin to take control of the country, Baba and Amir escape to a new life in California. Many years later, after his father has died, Amir visits his former mentor and father’s best friend in Pakistan, who persuades him to return to Kabul to rescue a child. From here, the real truth about Hussain emerges, and propels the story to its happy ending back in Northern California.

It is a very good story and when it got going it drew me in. I liked the onstage music, though I’m not sure it should have started with a solo turn. Matthew Spangler’s adaptation relies too much on narration (by Amir), though this may be the only way to tell such a dense story in a few hours. We’re used to more inventive storytelling on stage these days, and I wondered how much better it might be in the hands of Sally Cookson or Emma Rice. Putting it in the West End, at West End prices builds expectations that I don’t think it fully realises. If it wasn’t an ‘A’ level set text, would it be there? Though it was more than two weeks since its return to the West End, it didn’t seem as slick as by now it should have been.

That said, it eventually captured me and I loved the story, but maybe I should have read the book. In fairness, the standing ovation around me suggested my view was not shared by the majority in the audience.

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