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Road to redemption

Khaled Hosseini’s haunting tale of The Kite Runner comes to Dubai Opera from London’s West End this month 

In 2003, Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini took the literary world by storm when he debuted his first novel – The Kite Runner. The title became an overnight success, clocking up more than 100 weeks on the list of The New York Times Best Sellers. Four years later, San Franciscan playwright Matthew Spangler adapted the novel for the stage, inspired by his meeting with Hosseini in 2006. It took until 2014 for the production to take flight and debut in the United Kingdom, following which it enjoyed a critically acclaimed run through the region before embarking on an international tour. And now, the play will make its UAE debut this month at Dubai Opera. A poignant tale by Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner narrates a story of family, love and friendship, spanning cultures and continents. Set against the dramatic backdrop of Afghanistan on the brink of war, it follows the unlikely friendship and rivalry between a wealthy merchant’s son, Amir, and the son of his father’s servant, Hassan, finally detailing Amir’s journey towards redemption as he confronts his turbulent past. The stage production is no less powerful than its literary predecessor as it brings this heart-wrenching read to life. Exploring themes such as power, love and redemption, the novel dares to bring topics often taboo in the region to the stage. 

David Ahmad plays narrator, the 12-year-old Amir, a boy whose life is torn apart by his own jealousy and cowardice, tragedy leading him on a lifelong search for redemption to right his childhood wrongs. The British actor has been part of the cast since the UK launch in 2014, when he began as an understudy. Having spent so many years with the production, he says it has become a huge part of his life. “It means a good deal to me. I’ve made some very close friends working on it and there are elements of the story that will resonate with everyone,” he tells us. Although he was born and raised in London, Ahmad’s father grew up in the north-west of Pakistan, close to the Afghan border. So for him, the characters in the story feel very close to home. From a personal standpoint, Ahmad says he can relate to his stage father Baba’s journey, as the pair emigrate from Afghanistan to Pakistan and then to the US, following the Soviet Union’s military intervention in 1979, trying to make their way in a very foreign land. “My father was an immigrant to the UK in the 1960s so I know he and Baba would have had a similar experience while trying to establish their lives in a new, unfamiliar country,” he explains.

Ahmad adds that the stage version is a “very faithful and engaging adaptation of the much-loved story” and though it’s set in 1970s Kabul, it still has very real parallels with the world today. “It’s a privilege to be allowed to tell this powerful story in a way that draws people in and connects them to the action. The narrative sheds light on significant human issues, encompassing love, loss, family, guilt, political problems, immigration, war and the abuse of power. “All of these are continuous daily struggles for people belonging to any period of history. So, in that sense, it is still, sadly, very relevant. There will always be displaced people. It’s important to hear their stories.”  

The Kite Runner at Dubai Opera February 27 to 29. Matinee (3pm) and evening shows (8pm) are available. Tickets start from AED250  

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