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Anomaly by Liv Warden at the Old Red Lion Theatre | Review

Anomaly, Old Red Lion Theatre (Courtesy of Headshot Toby) Natasha Cowley.
Anomaly, Old Red Lion Theatre (Courtesy of Headshot Toby) Natasha Cowley.

Liv Warden’s Anomaly is a one-act play which explores the effects an unexpected arrest of a rich and powerful man has on his immediate family.

Penny (Katherine Samuelson) has to tell her sister, Piper (Natasha Cowley) during a transatlantic phone call that their businessman father has been arrested for GBH. Whilst Piper is not overly surprised at the news she was concerned upon hearing that the victim was their mother. The girls then discuss how best to deal with the media damage and also how their younger sister, Polly (Alice Handoll) (who they thought was receiving treatment at the Priory) would react to this news.

However, before either get to speak to Polly, we see her breaking into the family home having checked herself out of rehab.

The daughters then begin to remember past times spent with their father; Polly recalls dancing to S Club 7 at her fairy-themed 7th birthday party when her father gave her a beautifully wrapped present of a Queen Greatest Hits CD. She also sadly remembers her father hitting her across her eyes with his belt after she’d seen him in a compromising position with a woman. An aspiring actress, Penny, is taking part in a game/talk show where the host is desperately trying to find out about her erstwhile family. Penny remembers seeing her father in his car with their French au pair. Piper meanwhile hears further potentially damaging information as she desperately attempts to stop her father’s business empire and also, sadly, her three-year marriage from collapse. Piper also recalls a
childhood incident when her father bullied her into carrying out work experience at his company rather than her preferred choice of the ballet school.

Katherine Samuelson gives a great performance as the glamorous, smiley, pouty Penny which then turns teary when she receives bad news and hears more revelations about her father. Natasha Cowley gives a good performance too as she delivers her lines in a brusque, efficient way as benefits her character. She too shows great raw emotion as Piper hears further family revelations. Alice Handoll displays a great range of emotions as Polly remembers the difficult relationship she had with her father.

An interesting aspect of this production is that, save a couple of telephone conversations, the characters do not play off each other in the various scenes, instead, the actresses interaction with the other characters in the play is made with voice recordings.

Liv Warden’s emotive script is well-written, flowing and insightful. Charlotte Dennis’s set is pure white which complements the characters who are all dressed in black (Piper in a jumpsuit, Penny in a tight-fitting dress and Polly in a hoodie and leggings). Adam Small’s direction is well-paced and in keeping with the piece, whilst Holly Ellis’s lighting and Fuzz Guthrie’s sound enhance the story. An emotional thoughtful piece which, in my opinion, is well worth going to see.

4 stars

Review by Karen Pond

Anomaly is the unsettling debut play from Liv Warden exploring sisterhood, reputation and loyalty. It is a provocative and timely glimpse into fame, fathers and how the abuse of power can scratch far beyond the surface. Post-Weinstein, this is a story that is ready to be told.

It’s 6am. News has just broken that Phillip Preston, media mogul and film-industry powerhouse has been arrested for assaulting his wife. His three daughters, who lead separate lives, are left with the fallout. As they battle the world’s press, the board members of Preston International and each other, they soon find themselves not only fighting to save the Preston dynasty but to protect everything they know to be true.

In our Kardashian soaked culture of sensationalism, victims’ testimonies are finally being taken seriously and the world is listening. But, this play is not about men like Harvey Weinstein. Anomaly is a war cry for the women who have been left to pick up the pieces.

Cast and Creatives
Piper – Natasha Cowley
Penny – Katherine Samuelson
Polly – Alice Handoll
Director – Adam Small
Written by Liv Warden
Set Designer – Charlotte Dennis
Lighting Designer – Holly Ellis
Sound Designer – Fuz Guthrie

Anomaly
Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, London EC1V 4NJ
Tuesday 8th January – Saturday 2nd February 2019
https://www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk

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