Angel by Henry Naylor.
Directed by Michael Cabot. Presented by Holden Street Theatres, Edinburgh Fringe Award in association with Red Beard Productions and Gilded Balloon. Holden Street Theatres – The Studio. February 14 – March 19. 2017. Adelaide Fringe
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins
Every now and then I come across a play that is utterly compelling, harrowing in its content and yet reminding us of the horror confronted by innocent people suffering the terrors of war, oppression and brutal injustice. Angel by Henry Naylor, directed by Michael Cabot and performed by Avital Lvova is such a play.
Based on a true life account of a young woman’s fight against Daesh in Syria, Angel is a powerful and unforgettable reminder of the intolerable misery faced by millions of people caught up in the struggle against tyranny, terrorism and man’s evil inhumanity to man. It is a cry for compassion, a salute to the absolute admiration for individual courage and a plea for action against the forces of evil that destroy people’s homes and lives and force them into a bleak battle for survival. History is the recording of such struggles through the ages and Angel is a story that demands our attention and our action.
Lvova takes the audience on a riveting journey through the terrifyng experiences of Angel, who leaves home on a quest to find her father who has gone to defend Kobane against the invading forces of ISIS. On the way she faces the perils of war, seeking help, avoiding discovery and eventually joining the Kurdish Pshmerga group of 10,000 strong women to combat Daesh. She becomes a sniper, trained to kill and prevent the Jihadists from entering Heaven.
Henry Naylor’s account ends on the tightrope of heart stopping suspense as Angel confronts her nemesis Waheed, a boy from her village, who eventually joins the Jihadists . There are claims that Rehana the Angel has been decapitated by the invading forces of Daesh and claims that she has escaped after killing 100 ISIS fighters. Whatever the truth, Lvova’s intense and gripping performance under Michael Cabot’s direction reveals in graphic detail the desperate fight for survival by the women of Kobane. In a society often regarded as misogynistic, the example of the Pshmerga is a testament to the equality of men and women, combating the forces of evil in a brave and sacrificial battle for equality, justice, and freedom.
In the blood of brave martyrs flows the hope for freedom, as it has done throughout Time. Angel is confronting, challenging our notion of war as merely a Man’s conflict. Men, women and children die. Men and women fight to overthrow evil and all humanity bears the scars of battle. On the battlefields of Kobane,an Angel descends to save the righteous from the cruel oppression of the dark forces of Daesh. She is a woman who dreamed of justice through study of the law, who dreamed of the power of education and the profit of freedom, and who sacrificed the personal dream to enshrine it in the fight for the innocent and the good.
Angel will continue its tour after the Adelaide Fringe season. This is theatre that confronts our notions of women in the battle against ISIS, and demands through its grim reality our understanding and compassion to recognize and respect the responsibility of the free to harbor and provide for the victims of the enslaved and oppressed. If you have the opportunity to experience this outstanding production, it must not be missed!