IT DOESN’T take a massive leap of the imagination to see how The Kite Runner, a modern cultural phenomenon, is more relevant now than ever.

This tale of two boys’ friendship amid the conflict of Afghanistan entails immigration, persecution and a traumatic event that changes two young friends’ lives for ever. Donald Trump’s discrimination against refugees and the ongoing chaos in Syria are just two global developments that lend Khaled Hosseini’s story a greater degree of pertinence.

“It’s all still happening,” says David Ahmad, who plays main character Amir – the young boy who witnesses the harrowing incident involving his friend Hassan. “The crisis in Syria is still producing displaced people and those people are risking their lives every day trying to escape from war-torn areas. It’s important to remind people about the plight of displaced people.”

Ahmad’s father was born and lived in Pakistan until migrating to Britain in a move which mirrors Amir and his father Baba’s eventual relocation to California in The Kite Runner. “There’s always that pressure of assimilating in a new culture, that pressure of having to be Western and an immigrant,” says the actor.

When Amir – who narrates the play retrospectively as the plot unfolds – goes to America, he has something of an identity crisis. “How much does he become American and how much does he stay true to Afghanistan?” asks Ahmad rhetorically. “Any immigrant has faced these questions, so in that sense it’s familiar.”

Amir lives with a great deal of guilt over his perceived cowardice (to explain the context for this would be to reveal a crucial plot device). Ahmad, who was in The Kite Runner for three years and understudied Amir before taking the role, says he feels he understands the troubled character.

“He’s not instantly likeable to the audience – lots of people have issues with him because of this mistake he makes as a child,” says Ahmad. “But I feel I get Amir. I recognise that he’s not a bad character.” And in any case, the past tense in which Amir narrates the story gives him a sense of perspective on the often delicate situations he is relaying.

“It’s a difficult story for him to tell, but, in the end, he knows it’s worthwhile and he’s not as doomy and gloomy as he once was,” says Ahmad. “That makes it easier to play than being bogged down in the horrible mess of what actually happened.”

Ahmad says there is “something for everyone to relate to” in The Kite Runner and, unfortunately, one of these relatable features might lie in Amir’s strained relationship with his father, who shows disdain for his son’s desire to be a writer. It is not uncommon for a young boy to feel that they are disappointing their father in some way, but thankfully this wasn’t the case for Ahmad growing up.

“My dad was extraordinarily easygoing,” he says. “He’s a dentist but he was happy for me to do what made me happy. I’m very thankful for that.” As for the fictional father-son dynamic, Ahmad says the pair are simply “very different”. Baba is a “real bear of a character, a man’s man, and Amir is just not that”, according to the actor. “But ultimately Baba wants him to have the best kind of life he can.”

Family, friendship, war, politics; The Kite Runner pretty much has it all. As Ahmad says: “It’s not just about the story of refugees; it’s a life story."

The Kite Runner, Theatre Royal Brighton, November 14 to 18, 7.45pm (2.30pm matinee on Weds, Thurs and Sat). For more information and tickets visit