Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Kite Runner Soars on Stage!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Theatre Critic

I drove to downtown Phoenix today to see the Arizona Theatre Company's production of The Kite Runner. I left home early in order to enjoy a leisurely drive over the city streets rather than zipping across town on Interstate 10. The drive down McDowell took me past the Arizona State Fair and gave me the opportunity to check out the parking situation there in case I develop the resolve to take in the fair next weekend - and I think that I may just do that!

By leaving the house early, I was able to find parking on the street - effecting a net savings of $12.00. My much coveted parking spot was right in front of the U.S. Airways Center, within spittin' distance of the Hard Rock Cafe, and in the shadow of a fire department ropes exercise where firefighters were lowering themselves by ropes off of a crane that whose arm was about 300 feet in the air. That show by itself was worth the drive into Phoenix!

The Kite Runner is based on Khaled Hosseini's runaway bestselling novel of the same name. It was adapted for the stage by Matthew Spangler who is a Professor of Performance Studies at San Jose State University in California. The play was originally produced at San Jose State under the direction of Mr. Spangler. The production that I was privileged to see today had many of the original San Jose cast members. Some of the cast have been living these roles in various locations for two years, and this afternoon's performance was their last for the foreseeable future.

To say that this was a polished performance would be serious understatement. The Kite Runner was intricate, complicated, and flawless. It would be difficult and unfair to single out individual actors for their efforts simply because to do so would imply that some were better than others - when in truth, every member of the large cast was superb.

I will make special mention of the lone musician, Salar Nader. He sat on a corner of the stage throughout most of the play and did a remarkable job playing the tabla - an instrument consisting of seven or eight individual and unique drums. Mr. Nader's amazing percussion skills continually stoked the intensity of the play. (For those who would like to know more about Salar Nader or the tabla, he has a web page at

This play is too good to just pack up and go home. It is a lesson in Afghan history and culture interwoven with serious questions of humanity and morality. I predict that The Kite Runner will soon be Broadway bound, and if I am right, I will make a pilgrimage to the Great White Way to see it there!

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