Melis Aker shines as passionate, worldly Roya. She proves more than a match for Duke’s Hollywood act with her sly wit and knowledge of American culture, couched in a maturity beyond her years ... Aker unleashes mesmerizing outbursts of emotion, issuing a full-throated defense of her once-proud country and decrying the injustice of Taliban rule. Her line “We live our life with fear, but not in fear” serves as an accurate microcosm of her courageous existence.
Melis Aker particularly shines as central character Catherine, confidently portraying the conflicts of a woman whose life has been lived in the shadow of her brilliant but mentally ill father. With their thoughtful, moving and ambitious production, February 30th have undoubtedly proven themselves.
For the first time, the list this year was based on nominations from all 50 states. The nominators are theater artists who read or see at least 40 plays a year; they nominate plays anonymously, and those cited most frequently make up the Kilroys list.
It’s impossible not to root for the noble Afghan girl, of course, and Melis Aker is tough and wry as Roya.
Among a very strong cast Aker gives a stand-out bravura performance as Catherine. This is a character who must in the space of fifty minutes run the full gamut of emotions, being as convincing wise-cracking with her sister as she is groping in the terrifying blackness of possible insanity. It is testament to Aker’s skill that she had the audience hanging on her every word from the moment she rushed on stage concerned about her father to the final shocking revelation.
And as Melis Aker started her set, I slowly began to warm-up. There was certainly something pouring out of her, into the dark back-room. The lovely voice merging with poignant lyrics that obviously emanated from her passion, and some place quite private. Her compelling rendition of “A case of you” by Joni Mitchell cemented the moment, leaving all present throughly satisfied. She’s certainly as talented as she is easy on the eyes.
Melis Aker — originally from Turkey — is blazing her own theatric path here. She’s charming as 17-year-old romantic, smitten teen-ager, Cassandra Mortmain.