Theatre Review - Angel

HENRY Naylor’s award-winning play was inspired by the tragic story of Rehana, a Kurdish-Syrian teenager who joined a female militia in order to fight Daesh. She became a symbol of resistance against Islamic State and was dubbed the “Angel of Kobane”.

Rehana (Yasemin Özdemir) grows up in a Syrian village close to Turkey, studies hard and dreams of becoming a lawyer. In 2014, Isis besieges the region and she’s forced to flee with her family to the border. Realising her father has remained in Kobane to fight, Rehana turns back to find him.

Her fellow Kurds are leaving Kobane in droves to avoid the inevitable Isis onslaught. Caught up in the turmoil, narrowly escaping rape by Daesh fighters, Rehana decides to stay and defend the town. She becomes a legendary sniper, killing more than 100 Isis fighters.

Naylor condenses Rehana’s life into 60 minutes. Though a series of anecdotes, we learn of her happy childhood on the family farm. She first wields a gun when her father forces her to kill her pet dog after it contracts rabies. When their lives are up-ended, she reluctantly abandons her pacifism to fight for her people’s liberty.

Torch Theatre’s blistering production of this one-woman show, directed by Peter Doran, cries out to be seen.

Özdemir is perfectly cast although, occasionally, she is so impassioned some of the text is lost. It’s a shame because she is clearly talented, seamlessly switching between several characters, and I suspect this is a directorial flaw.

It’s a minor caveat – this is a must-see drama and Özdemir’s mesmerising performance will have you on the edge of your seats.

NB: Angel contains strong language and distressing scenes that some may find uncomfortable.

Until September 17

Originally published by Islington Tribune