Artist/Playwright Almanya Narula’s newest work shines a light on an unlikely hero. Noor Inayat Khan, a descendent of Indian royalty and a pacifist, joins the French resistance of Nazi occupation as a spy. Noor Inayat Khan:The Forgotten Spy is the story of an extraordinary woman’s grit, courage and savage loyalty in the face of evil.
1943, Nazi occupied France. Noor Inayat Khan has been captured and tortured after being discovered as a spy and wireless operator under Churchill’s orders. Inayat Khan had long maintained her cover by being written off as clumsy and simple-minded, meanwhile liberating many through her covert and extraordinarily dangerous operations. But when a petty betrayal leads her into the hands of the Gestapo, Inayat Khan is faced with an impossible decision: capitulate or disappear without a trace. Her story unfolds in a small, crowded interrogation room in the moments leading up to her anticipated confession; a dangerous, suffocating environment and Inayat Khan’s prospects are grim. Her life and freedom hang in the balance.
Co-directors Mehr Kaur and Meghna Chakraborty create a complete world with meticulous attention to detail. The direction is well-paced, restrained and specific. The production’s soundscape fills in the space providing dramatic tension and the suggestion of a dangerous, foreboding environment. Violence is apparent (though not explicit), both in the obvious recent beating received by Inayat Khan by her captors and the not-so-far-off sounds of airplanes and gunfire. The creative use of lighting adds additional layer of danger.
Narula’s performance often conveys a cinematic quality. She is so completely in control of the performance that the character’s twists and turns are calculated and well curated. She smolders and conveys a world of feeling through the focused restraint of a close-up.
Noor Inayat Khan: The Forgotten Spy is a memorable, thoughtful piece of theatre about a woman resisted peacefully, courageously and for a singular purpose. Noor Inayat Khan sacrificed her life for the French resistance and maintained her dignity and the ability to control her own narrative. Even in her ultimate defeat she’s victorious in the face of overwhelming evil; her spirit unbreakable and her will unwavering.
This award-winning production was a part of the 2022 Hollywood Fringe Festival and will be returning to the Broadwater Black Box for additional encore performances in August.
For more information, please visit: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/7519.