We chat to Bhavin Bhatt ahead of his performance in The Kite Runner at Dubai Opera this weekend

West End actor plays the role of Assef

We chat to Bhavin Bhatt ahead of his performance in The Kite Runner at Dubai Opera this weekend

The Kite Runner is making its debut at Dubai Opera this weekend (opening night is Thursday February 27).

We catch up with West End actor Bhavin Bhatt, who has played one of the main protagonists in the stage adaption of the best-selling novel by Khaled Hosseini, for three years.

Assef is a Kabul bully who ends up joining the Taliban.

You’ve played the role of Assef for three years…
Yes, and each time has been interesting to find new detail with the character.

Is it mentally exhausting to play the same character for so long?
I don't find it mentally exhausting, though the first time I played Assef came with challenges that were both amazing, but also quite scary. Due to his horrific nature and the terrible things he does, for me it was tough to get into the mind frame. However once rehearsals started I found the rhythm, and I still apply the same mental and physical fitness to bring him to life on stage.

What are you most looking forward to about performing at Dubai Opera?
Dubai Opera is such an incredible venue. I'm really looking forward to performing to a wide range of audiences from teenagers to adults, and to be able to tell such a beautiful story in a 2,000-seat venue.

Is it hard to adapt your performance for different stages?
When we are touring, the different stages and venues all pose their various challenges, but I feel these make you a better actor. It is tough to get used to different stages as all of them have differing acoustics, which means I might have to push my voice further and that becomes harder when you’re doing eight shows a week. Some venues can be small, which means you have to adapt the way you bring on props. But I am lucky to work with such a positive and enthusiastic cast and crew – we all help each other adapt.

How does the show manage to condense the book into a two-hour performance?
The book is rich in wonderful detail. Matthew Spangler has done a fantastic job in condensing the story into a two-hour play without losing the core of the story. This is Amir’s journey towards redemption and Matthew keeps the script snappy in a way that keeps the audience engaged. The characters have all kept the strong detail from the book and together both of these create the very best of storytelling. We stay very true to the book.

What are your thoughts on the powerful themes of the story?
I have always been fascinated by the themes this story brings and every time I have done the show, there has never been a time when the themes have not been relevant. For me, the themes are classic and will always resonate for years and years to come. There are elements of Shakespearian themes as well as issues that affect our society today. We have one of the most diverse audiences coming to see our show and every single audience member is affected by one or multiple themes.

Despite being set in a different time, the story still holds relevance today…
The story tackles with a number of issues and evokes strong feelings. We take the audiences on a rollercoaster of emotions, allowing them to question things after the show. Despite being set in the 1970s the themes we express and emotional journey we take the audiences on allow the story to remain relevant.

What can audiences expect?
Audiences can expect to laugh, cry, be angry, be joyful and to be at the heart of a compelling story. The Kite Runner is unique in many ways and just when the audience think they know the story, we throw in a couple of plot twists!
From Dhs350. Thu Feb 27 8pm, Fri Feb 28 3pm & 8pm, Sat Feb 29 3pm & 8pm. Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai, www.dubaiopera.com.

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