Thursday, September 9, 2010

No Rules. Fly Your Kite.

ATL's production of "The Kite Runner" is an compelling piece of theatre that begins to teach us about the struggles of the Afghanistan people juxtaposed between their customs and rules. Reminiscent  of "Our Town", this play could become standard reading in theatre classrooms worldwide.

Through the early childhoods of Amir and Hassan we get to learn that the two boys are culturally apart but socially together as friends. One tries to teach the other to read and the other  the art of flying a kite. Act I is full of information about their situation formed in the mid to late 70's. The lessons of  the caste system, of family and traditions, of winning and standing up against the bully and thugs and the loyalty and friendship of two people.  The use of the narrator telling the story allows us to experience Amir's tribulations as a young boy and as a man setting up Act II. Act II's time line of 1981-2002 is a lot of information to deal with in an one hour constraint but Matthew Spangler's adaptation of Khaled Hosseini's novel seems to hit the highlight of the novel.

Upon entering the theatre and seeing the Persian influence within the proscenium and sliding panels was a nice touch but the pattern seemed simple and Americanized.  This pattern was repeated in the lighting on the stage. The stage is sparse only to bring in pieces as needed to denote space and place, aka "Our Town". The "stone wall" centerpiece is used for various situations from a vantage point for the kite running to a run down bus. This might be to simple and probably not needed.  Maybe that is what director Masterson was trying to establish.  But, I see a better  use of the cyclorama and multimedia.  And why don't they bring some of the action and scenery more downstage? Sight lines? Another technical let down were the kites during the kite competition and the final moment in the play.  Kites floating on the wind back to earth can be inspirational but falling from the sky like a stone is a disappointment.

Overall the acting and casting should be commended. A few of the minor roles might have been cast to young. But Jos Viramontes brought enjoyment and wonder to the role as the older Amir and narrator. He relived his youth with the joy and pain involved and faced the consequences of his adulthood with honesty and truth. It's an ensemble piece and a great ensemble told a great story and brought forth a great production. Special mention to Salar Nader the onstage Tabla player. His composition, arrangement and commanding performance sets the tone throughout the play and makes him the silent yet musical actor on the stage.

This play has a lot to accomplish in order for us to understand and learn about the Afghan lifestyle and culture. But as this production reminds us about the common elements of loyalty, forgiveness, redemption and sacrifice hopefully we start to learn about our self and others far from the comfort of home. This play needs to be seen. To be discussed. To fly. To run. To chase and catch that kite.  ô¿ô

1 comment:

  1. Do you ever sleep Ralph? 5:27am up blogging....