|On the left - Ben Turner as Amir|
It's a popular book. Published in 2003, "The Kite Runner" has enjoyed phenomenal sales around the world and was even turned into a Hollywood film back in 2007. I cannot say that I was knocked out by it. I had certain misgivings but at its heart there is a readable, engaging tale that transports readers to troubled Afghanistan - a very rare destination for western fiction.
Hassan is the "kite runner". He chases fallen kites and retrieves them for his master's son - Amir. Neither of them know at this time that they are half brothers. Amir has to live with the legacy of his cowardice while brave Hassan finally dies at the hands of the vindictive Talibs. Though now settled in San Francisco, after twenty years Amir is drawn back to his homeland - partly to atone for his guilt and his weakness. He had seen Hassan subjected to violent male rape but did nothing. His father, Baba, would certainly have acted. These matters hang over Amir's life like a dark cloud.
Anyway, on Monday night a play version of "The Kite Runner" was presented at Birmingham Rep. Frances invited me over to see it and we were both mesmerised by the production - apart from the moment when a mobile phone rang in the front row disturbing the lead actors' dramatic concentration.
The demanding role of Amir was taken by British Iranian actor Ben Turner who once starred in the BBC Saturday night TV hospital soap opera - "Casualty". He was very good and the production as a whole enjoyed the assistance of some very clever dramatic devices to turn Hosseini's fictional vision into theatrical believability.
Later we had a drink and a natter in "The Brown Lion" - only to discover that this hundred year old pub is to close its doors forever in a fortnight. As George Harrison once said before he himself passed - "All things must pass".