Presented by Holden Street Theatres Edinburgh Fringe Awards in association with Redback Productions and Gilded Balloon. Adelaide Fringe. 15 Feb 2017
Henry Naylor’s Echoes was one of the five-star hits of last year’s Fringe and this year’s Angel is going the same way. Naylor is emerging as one of the great playwrights of our times, not only handling very difficult political and gender issues but doing so with a very lyrical and potent pen.
Angel by Henry Naylor is a war saga largely set in Syria and telling of Rehana, a bright farm girl who is intent on a legal career when her life and aspirations are upturned by the siege on her home town of Kobane. It is the third in Naylor’s trilogy “Arabian Nightmare”.
Rehana is a character based on truth, on a law student who trained as a sniper and became something of a legend after killing about 100 members of ISIS. She was reported to have been caught and beheaded by ISIS - twice.
Naylor introduces her as a girl whose farmer father deters local Islamic lads from abusing her by showing his strength in an extraordinary act of self-harm. He subsequently keeps her from school and trains her, against her wishes, as a marksman. Then her mother takes her on a refugee flight to Turkey whence she turns tail to rescue her father who remains in embattled Kobane, hopelessly defending the family farm. It is a gutsy and frightening trip, a teen girl at the mercy of factions of fierce warring Muslim men. She is forced to desperate ends, each experience bringing a pacifist girl closer to the ruthless warrior woman she is destined to become among the amazing Kurdish women’s army whose triumphal power lies in the Islamic belief that death at the hands of a woman denies a man all the carnal luxuries of heaven.
Angel is directed by Michael Cabot on a smoky stage where lighting dark and shrill evokes the many scenes of the narrative. It is a solo show but actress Avital Lvova peoples the stage by leaping in and out of the characters Rehana the Angel encounters on her desperate mission: her stoic father, her sad mother, the Kurdish fighter who smuggles her disguised as his wife, the ISIS soldiers who imprison her, and the leader of the women’s army.
It is a dynamic, action-packed narrative delivered in a powerful performance.
Lvova is a wonder to behold. She has an exceptional ability to connect with the audience, a magical outreach which is quite compelling.
The production thus forces audiences to dip their consciousnesses into the bloody sands of the Syrian sorrows and to taste for themselves just a little of why the people are fleeing their homeland.
It is indeed the Arabian nightmare.
It also is a vivid, brilliant and important piece of theatre, one which brings young audience members to their feet to whoop and scream in approbation while the older ones are still sitting in silent respect before erupting into a thunder of applause.
When: 15 Feb to 19 Mar
Where: The Studio, Holden Street Theatres