THE magnificent storytelling of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner is successfully transferred to the theatrical production currently playing at the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham, writes Danny Hall.

And the effusive audience reaction is particularly well deserved in the case of the stamina-sapping central performance from David Ahmad in the role of narrator and principal character Amir as both a child and an adult.

Ahmad rarely leaves the stage throughout the more-than-two-hour performance and it is to his credit, and the clarity of his diction and acting, that he can carry the show.

Looking back from modern day San Francisco where he is now a refugee who has settled into life as a writer, Amir reflects on growing up in initially peaceful and then war-torn Afghanistan as a privileged child in a relatively well-to do family.

Strong themes include the strained relationship between a father and his son, friendship, loyalty and love, and how cruel the young Amir can be with his contemporary, the illiterate Hassan (Jo Ben Ayed) who is a servant to the family – and the feted Kite Runner of the title.

Amir is haunted throughout by how he treated the ill-fated Hassan who gave him nothing but unconditional comradeship. And how he stood back as a passive observer in the pivotal scene which is handled in almost too low key a fashion on stage.

The guilt-ridden Amir belatedly does the right thing by Hassan – whom he has discovered was his half-brother. He rescues Hassan’s orphaned son and brings him over to the States to give him a new life.

Matthew Spangler’s re-imagining of a great book and a creditable screen adaptation inevitably comes off third best when faced with the brilliant lyrical writing of the harrowing and tear-jerking original which is at times both intimate and epic.

Adult actors skipping around the stage playing kids did not work for me, a second-half fight with a possibly Taliban bully was laughingly stagey, and the simple austere set – in an era when we have come to expect lavish and elaborate West End backdrops – fails to truly do justice to a tale that straddles continents and decades.

Nonetheless, the third generation of one the great classics of modern literature deserves to be seen, especially for David Ahmad’s starring role.

The Kite Runner plays at the Everyman until Saturday, November 4. BOX OFFICE: 01242 572573.