Tag Archives: regional theatre

The Kite Runner at the West Yorkshire Playhouse

kite runner west yorkshire playhouse

I’ve got a busy week this week! All my weeks tend to be quite busy, what with a full time job, an internship and a blog, but this week I’ve also got two theatre visits and a bonfire to attend. It’s tiring but so nice to be seeing lots of lovely people, since working evenings can rob me of a social life somewhat.

Last night I went to the West Yorkshire Playhouse with some of my favourite work people to see The Kite Runner. We loved the book, and we were so excited to see how Giles Croft would bring Matthew Spangler’s adaptation to one of my favourite Leeds stages in the Quarry Theatre.

If you aren’t familiar with the story: rich Pashtun boy Amir grows up in Afghanistan with his Hazara servant Hassan as his closest friend. One snowy, kite-running day, an awful act of cowardice by Amir destroys their friendship, tearing the boys apart and leaving Amir racked with guilt and unsure how to seek redemption.

Ben Turner is truly the star of the show as Amir, a superior, selfish child, desperate for his father’s attention, who isn’t that much more pleasant as an adult. Nicholas Karimi merits a mention too as the terrifyingly sociopathic Aseff and Andrei Costin’s Hassan is loyal and vulnerable without being pathetic.

The sparse staging is used effectively, but much is still left to the imagination and as a result some of the continent-spanning majesty of the source material can be lost at times. There’s not enough contrast between dusty 1970s Kabul and San Francisco on the turn of the century, which means you lack a sense of how hard Amir has worked to distance himself from his childhood home, and of the differences between his life then and now.

However, this production really packs its punches emotionally. Amir’s youthful mistake has consequences he couldn’t have imagined, and his journey to redemption isn’t easy. By the time the play draws to a close, there’s barely a dry eye in the house. The final twenty minutes are raw, touching, harrowing, even, but never schmaltzy.

There’s a reason this production is going to be packed all week. It’s beautiful, a really hard look at a tragic story that shows friendship, betrayal and family ties transcend locations and cultures.

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Orphans, errands and Italian food

My weekend started early this time, for once, with a trip to see Annie at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. I can get the odd free ticket to productions there via my day job, and initially I hadn’t especially fancied it. After seeing a couple of pretty impressive reviews in the Guardian and the Telegraph, though, I didn’t really want to miss it.

The production absolutely blew me away! As all the papers say, it really is the kids that make it. They’re so professional – every note is perfect, every move is measured and precise. We saw Phoebe Roberts as Annie (she’s alternating with Sophie Downham) and she was everything Annie should be – feisty, but vulnerable, with heaps of street smarts and a healthy dose of optimism. The setting – the USA in recession – couldn’t be more fitting and we left the theatre feeling on top of the world. Honestly, if I’d seen it in the West End, at West End prices, I’d have still loved it.

If you like musical theatre, get Annie tickets. If you need a last minute Christmas present, get Annie tickets. If you’re feeling down in the dumps, get Annie tickets. You won’t regret it!

On the way I had my first ever Fish&, as I never seem to be in town when they are, and they always sell out early at events! Even on this occasion, as it was late evening, they were out of their legendary mac baps, so we settled for the lime and chilli battered fish and sweet potato chips. Gorgeous and the perfect meal to squeeze between some evening shopping and the theatre. Light, satisfying, locally produced and responsibly sourced.

Garlic mayo...YES PLEASE

Why is a menu written in chalk ten times more appetising than a printed one?

Saturday brought errands – we’ve just moved house so we headed to Ikea to pick up some essentials.

The dreaded self service warehouse...does it really save them that much money?

We definitely needed to recover after that, and we had some family in town for a shopping trip, so we headed off to – where else? – the Tiled Hall Café at Leeds Art Gallery for a hot drink and cake. I’ve said this before but there’s nothing I love more than showing off a gorgeous, unique part ofLeeds to someone who’s visiting. They loved the food and the atmosphere (who wouldn’t?) so it was a job well done. My brother-in-law tried the dandelion and burdock cake and pronounced it exceptionally good, so it’s on my list to try next time!

The amazing roof

Pretty Christmas lights

Then on Saturday night, we finally got to try out that Leeds institution, Salvo’s. I’ve been hearing good things about it for years, but never made it there for one reason or another. We had agreed with some friends of ours that instead of presents we would go there for a meal, and it was a great choice. I forgot to take pictures – the company was rather good – but I had the chicken supreme in a garlic cream sauce, and it was divine. It’s on the pricey side unless you stick to pasta and water, but the food really is good and the service is excellent. We left very happy indeed!

After all that excitement, plus the fact that I’m currently recovering from a rather nasty sinus infection, we dedicated Sunday to Christmas films and home made Christmas biscuits with some good friends.

The best Christmas film of all time?

What’s that you say? Why are my pictures so small? Gosh, well, I’ve really got no idea. Sorry.

 

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