REVIEW: ANOMALY (Red Lion Theatre) ★★★★

Anomaly is the debut play from Liv Warden, showing at the Old Red Lion Theatre. Warden began writing at the Soho Writers Lab in 2016; this play was first conceived in conjunction with the National Theatre playwriting course and finished at the Arcola Theatre ‘Introduction to Playwriting’ course at the end of last year.

Warden shines a light on the ‘Me Too’ and ‘Time’s Up’ movements from a different angle, introducing the daughters of a powerful media mogul who has been arrested for assaulting his wife. These three women now leading very separate lives are thrown back into contact as the fallout from the revelations hit and they realise they can’t hide from the press interest in their family.

Anomaly is not about the accused man or his wife, we do not see or hear them. The story is told through the daughters’ conversations. Piper (Natasha Cowley) is the eldest and trusted by her father to run the family business and by the board to manage her father’s indiscretions. Penny (Katherine Samuelson) has moved to LA to pursue an acting career, where her surname has opened doors but now puts her at the mercy of intrusive questions from chat show hosts. Polly (Alice Handoll) is the estranged younger sister, recently out of rehab and introduced by breaking into the family home.

The three women are on stage for the full 70 minutes, spotlit when they are speaking in the white box stage with a red slash of tabloid headlines through the middle. As the story plays out and more revelations about their father’s past and present behaviour surface we see just how far the family name has fallen from grace and no amount of hush money will make this go away.

All three talented actors play their parts well and are ones to watch in the future; Samuelson and Handoll make their impressive professional theatre debuts. The sisters are never in the same place so all their interactions with each other are by phone and their other conversations are with unseen characters voiced off stage. It’s only in the final minutes that all three sisters are on the same call to face one last truth.

The play has some uncomfortable moments and leaves some stones unturned but the subject feels very relevant and important to explore.

Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans
Photo: Headshop Toby


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