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Angel review at Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh – ‘bold, confident portrayal’

Filipa Braganca in Angel. Photo: Steve Ullathorne Filipa Braganca in Angel. Photo: Steve Ullathorne
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Angel was the name given to a sniper, a Kurdish woman reputed to have shot and killed more than 200 Isis fighters in northern Syria. Writer Henry Naylor turns this strange contemporary legend into a compelling story of success against adversity not only in wartime but also in personal life as he documents Angel’s gradual empowerment amid the horror of conflict and occupation.

The daughter of a farmer near the Turkish border dreams of becoming a lawyer, but her father wants her to take over the farm and teaches her how to shoot to protect it. They learn to see each other’s point of view, and there’s a touching scene where Angel sings her father’s favourite Kurdish independence songs while he sings Beyonce.

As the storm of Isis bears upon Syria from neighbouring Iraq, the Syrian Kurds receive no help from Europe, while Turkey won’t let them into safety across the border. Angel discovers that her father taught her well: after narrow scrapes with the occupiers, she turns the tables and helps to defend her community.

Filipa Braganca (who also appeared in Naylor’s Echoes in 2015) provides a bold and confident portrayal of an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances. Guided by Michael Cabot’s sparse yet sensitive direction, Braganca gets unexpected laughs while not disturbing the tension of her journey through hell.

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Female sniper’s tale in the Syrian war is a bold, confident portrayal