THE Kite Runner is, in places, absolutely heart breaking.
And yet despite leaving the theatre feeling I'd gone through the emotional equivalent of being hit by a truck, I also felt strangely elated. I felt like I'd just sat through something very, very special, life affirming in fact.
Also a film of course, this is the story of two boys, growing up together in Afghanistan. They're at opposite ends of the social scale and while they never proclaim it in the play, they might as well be blood brothers. But Amir and Hassan are as well as being united by what seems like an unbreakable bond, also share the hobby of kite flying, a national obsession inthis country, particularly among its boys.
Amir, the privileged one, is selfish and has father issues, while Hassan is a delightful young chap who would do anything for his friend. His selflessness is touching, deeply so. But Hassan, sensitive and vulnerable, strikes you as ill-equipped to survive the streets of Kabul.
David Ahmad ensures you live ever second of Amir's emotional journey with him and there's a wonderful, natural chemistry between himand Jo Ben Ayed who plays Hassan, so perfectly you'll feel like leaping out of your seat to protect him. I also liked Emilio Doorgasingh who plays the dad Amir struggles so much to please.
I really like theatre when it takes the audience out of its cultural bubble while, at the same time, not losing sight of the things that unite us. The Kite Runner, adapted for the stage by Matthew Spangler, is a play about friendship, intolerance and, ultimately, some sort of redemption, But it's also a play you simply must see, even if it could be, at times, the most difficult of watches. Stunning.
* Until October 7. The box office is on 0843 208 6000. Star rating - *****