Angel at the Torch: Worth the Wait

There’s an extraordinary moment in Angel, which is playing at the Torch Theatre until 23 October. The title character recounts an episode where she’s lost in Northern Syria, and Kurdish fighters challenge her to identify herself. They’re trying to work out if she’s one of them (which she is) or if she’s on the side of Islamic State.

At one point in the tense conversation, the fighters grow frustrated at the mixed messages – her truck contains both ISIS and Kurdish flags – and they accuse her of ‘serving two masters’.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only audience member whose mind immediately went back to the wonderful Torch production of One Man, Two Guvnors, which was one of the theatre’s last shows before lockdown.

Truly we had come full circle. Live theatre has finally returned to the Torch after a break of over 18 months.

It was worth the wait.

The vividly described and tense confrontation is of course reported speech – this is a one-woman play, effectively an interleaved series of stories told from the protagonist’s point of view.

Star of the show is Yasemin Özdemir, who cut her teeth at the Torch a few years ago, and has now returned in triumph to her Pembrokeshire roots.

Her story begins in childhood, when her father forces her to put her pet dog out of its misery after it’s attacked by a jackal… her ability to use a gun comes in handy years later, when, as a law student and a pacifist, she finds herself engulfed in the Syrian civil war. Suddenly, William Shatner, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé are no longer a part of her life. In her words, they’re quickly replaced by ‘the smell of sweat and moral decay’.

And the need to kill for her own survival.

But this is not a tale about the good guys killing the bad guys. Angel suffers intense moral anguish and enormous physical and mental trauma. This is not a play for the faint-hearted, but when it came to its heart-wrenching conclusion, the audience rose as one.

This bottom left-hand corner of the country is truly fortunate to have the Torch in our midst, and to be benefiting from this production. If you haven’t already booked your tickets, I urge you to go to without delay.


Rob Barnes lives in Pembroke with his partner Kirsten. A man of many talents he is  currently working on a number of  projects including a novel about rural life in Pembrokeshire during and after the First World War. He is a mainstay of Pembrokeshire.Online, interviewing, writing reviews and creating articles.  

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