Angel by Henry Naylor performs at Gilded Balloon at 4.30pm.
Angel completes Henry Naylor’s Arabian Nightmares trilogy (check). Having seen Echoes last year and enjoying the relevance of the drama I was intrigued to see his follow on piece. Already by the fifth day of Fringe there was a hype surrounding Angel that raised expectations and set a high bar. His previous plays had proved popular, winning several awards and transferring to Broadway, Angel is no doubt expected to do the same.
Following the story of Angel, a Kurdish girl, living in a Syrian village ten kilometres south of the Turkish border, the plot moves slowly. Setting the scene seems to be of great importance as well as establishing the relationship between Angel and her father, to ensure the audience know that this will be central to the story’s plot. Her whole world is turned upside down when Daesh arrives to put down the Kurdish YPG ( Kurdish liberation group), they begin to flee to Europe but almost over the border Angel decides she cannot leave her father and attempts to get back home.
Increasingly unlikely events occur, all fitted to ensure the plot can carry on and truthfully I found it a little tasteless. Although it commented on many of the horrors people, especially woman, have to endure at the hands of Daesh it was difficult not to feel that there was too much artistic license in the piece. Understandably Naylor has to take some liberties in order to make sure the story continues but with a topic as relevant, sensitive and real as the happenings in the Middle East it feels wrong to make anything about this subject simple.
However despite this, it was very easy to become engrossed in the story. The actress, Filipa Braganca, was stupendous. Just over an hour of intense monologue requires a special hand indeed and she dealt with it with ease. Definitely one to follow it is satisfying to see the success she has found on the back of Naylor’s work (she was in Echoes, and continues to tour it). The script is strong and well suited to her style, she easily switches between all the characters to various reactions; laughter, shock and horror.
Altogether it is a strong production but that slightly bitter taste in the way a very relevant sensitive topic was simplified for the purpose of the script keeps me from awarding it the five stars I think Filipa’s performance deserves.